mat of wool
formed by shearing a sheep in one continuous operation. The average fleece weighs from 5 to 10 lb (2.3–4.5 kg); in highbred wool sheep such as the American Merinos a ram's fleece may reach 30 lb (13.6 kg). The weight lost in cleansing the fleece of grease before sorting the wool is called shrinkage. On large sheep ranches hand shearing, once a competition skill, has largely been replaced by machine shearing. In heraldry a fleece is a whole, stuffed ram's fleece, complete with head and feet, suspended by a band around its middle. See also Golden Fleece
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.
wool removed from a sheep in an entire layer. Fleece consists of staples or locks of wool that are held close to one another by connecting wool threads in homogeneous wool and by the bunching of down at the bases of the locks in heterogeneous wool. The fleece is removed in the spring from fine-wooled, semifine-wooled, semicoarse-wooled, and coarse-wooled sheep. Autumn and lamb’s-wool shearings do not form a fleece but fall into separate pieces. The wool covering on sheep before shearing is also called fleece.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
A fabric with a deep, soft, napped surface.
Coat of wool shorn from sheep; usually taken off the animal in one piece.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
sheepskin or a fabric with soft pile, used as a lining for coats, etc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005