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Just when you thought there wasn't anything more you cared to know about the wool industry in Australia, along comes news of a special request being made of farmers there. As this space reported back in January, the finest merino wool comes from sheep that are raised in Australian barns on a diet of specially grown grains and recordings of opera music. But now industry researchers are out to refine the process still further. The Australian newspaper reports that, according to carefully gathered statistics, 100 merino lambs are born with "extreme and even undesirable features" in a given year. Translation: They're ugly. That isn't good because these lambs may have uneven wool, clumps that fall out, or bare patches. Given the competition from synthetic fibers, scientists seek to make "quantum leaps" that will result in wool that is "more stretchy, less scratchy, shinier, and easier to spin." Which brings us back to that special request. After the Australian fall lamb drop, farmers reported seeing only 10 of the 100 that the statistics indicate should have been born ugly. Thus, an all-points bulletin is out for the other 90 because "singling out ugly sheep would dramatically boost research."

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