Spotlight on Energy: Montana Green Insulation


guard dog puppies.jpgBrookside Woolen Mill Makes Montana Green Insulation out of Sheep Wool

Thayne and Michelle Mackey of Malta have a different kind of business.  They process Montana sheep wool into the greenest and safest insulation in production.  Former organic farmers, they decided to sell the farm and go into the wool business.

Purchasing the machinery from Baron Woolen Mill out of Brigham City Utah and bringing it to their mill site on the Hi-line was a major chore, taking 29 Semi loads, 16 pickup trailer loads and a lot of farmer ingenuity.  The machines were brought to Malta and re-fitted while a new shop was built.

Initial Picker-1


Sheep wool is the premier insulation: a cubic foot has an R-value of 50, is non-cacogenic, and won’t mold. In addition, wool can’t carry a flame in our atmosphere, and it’s also hypo-allergenic.  The wool is washed in a 120 foot long 105 ton scouring train, one of 3 left in the USA, then cut into small pieces for loose fill insulation.

The next plan for the woolen mill is to start processing mattress bats and Bio-wix reclamation and re-vegetation mats for use after fire, mining damage and landscaping work.   With the new machinery they are buying, Brookside Woolen Mill has the potential to purchase and process 600,000 to one million pounds of Montana wool yearly.


As BWM is starting to operate year round, they produce a large supply of waste water. BWM is looking into starting a greenhouse and aquaponic production system.  Currently, the wastewater goes into a settling pond and can then be sprinkled on pasture or into a clean water pond.  With the volume of water the mill generates, having another productive use for it only makes sense.  Within three years, the Mackeys would like to have a set of year around greenhouses growing plants and fish or shrimp, with the excess water from that system going into an irrigation system for a large Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) type garden. They could potentially set up a community shared commercial kitchen.  Extra food could be processed, sold and donated to the local foodbank.

Contact the Mackeys to learn more at or 406-654-4428


White ewe

(Originally published in the December 2015 Issue of the AERO Sun Times. )