Having recently finished shearing the sheep I was reminded of how much age greying can alter the colour of a fleece. It is rarely considered as a colour, certainly not a choice or selection that a breeder might choose to breed for. Indeed many consider it to be undesireable, but like it or not I thought it should be added to the colour genetics page. Age greying does make a significant difference in colouration to a sheep and many could be forgiven for thinking they had an unusual "grey" rather than a common or garden black sheep. For me its not the colour but the texture of age greying that gives a fleece its difference and that I find attractive.
If you have ever taken a closer look at a relative whose age greying or even your own head for those of a certain age, what becomes noticeable is that the white hairs intermingled with the black are considerably coarser than the average fibre diameter. The above photo is of fleece samples which are roughly comparable, that is originally they were all black sheep and have fleeces which could be considered similar in fibre mix and variability but I think its clear to see that the age grey sample lacks the silkier smoothness of the samples to the left and right of it. Age greying affects not the fine fuzz of wool fibres but the hair fibres. Its thumbprint in a fleece is distinctive and a close look in a parted fleece will reveal whether the visible colour changes are as a result of an age related phenomenon or another different reason for the colour change.
From a fibre perspective, I am looking forward to using the age greying fleece for an up and coming fun project, I can't wait! I'll update the colour genetics page in due course with a fuller description of its mode of inheritance and some of its more technical atrributes;
Mouton argenté ou grisonnement lié au vieillissement (la canitie)? La couleur d'un mouton n'est pas toujours facile à deviner mais avec la canitie (à cause du vieillissement) pour le plupart c'est que les poils qui sont atteints. Les fibres laineux et soyeux restent noires et les poils deviennent blancs, on peut remarquer que le résultat est une toison plus rêche. C'est une empreinte caractéristique, pas toujours favorisée par les éleveurs mais parfois recherché par les fileuses pour son aspect brillante..