Don’t underestimate the importance of sheep ownership. They’re excellent landscapers, chewing weeds that turn their noses on most other grazing herbivores, and they’re a source of healthy dairy products such as cheese and milk. Shearing them is going to be one of your activities. When winter’s done, shearing relieves your sheep of heavy insulation and provides you with a salable product.
Usually, early spring is the time of year for sheep-shearing. In order to keep them cool and comfortable, this relieves the sheep of their year-old coats in time and allows them plenty of time to develop a coat that is long and thick for the winter. Unless the weather is especially warm, shearing will start in March, in which case producers often begin shearing towards the end of February. Shearing timing also has a lot to do with the season for lambing. Ewes are allowed to take cover by shearing pregnant sheep around a month before their lambs are due, so their lambs aren’t born outdoors. Shearing also allows ewes to eat more just before lambing, which provides Mama sheep and her baby with nutrients, establishes a more hygienic atmosphere for the lamb to be born in, and clears the way once the baby has arrived for easy nursing.
With only an annual shearing to look forward to, most sheep grow their fleece over the year. However, some kinds of sheep may be sheared up to twice a year; others do not need shearing at all. In April and again in fall, around August or September, carpet wool sheep, whose coarse, low quality wool is used in carpets, are sheared. Shedding sheep, on the other hand, naturally shed their coats and need not be sheared.
Do or Employ It Yourself?
Getting a flock of sheep doesn’t mean you have a flock of sheep yourself. For a charge, shearing pros will come to you to shear them. The shearing method requires specialised equipment to be maintained for successful shearing, not to mention know-how and skills to skillfully shear sheep without nicking, cutting or otherwise injuring them. Get comprehensive and proper training from a specialist or through a county extension school if you wish to shear your sheep yourself, and purchase the necessary equipment.
Preparation for the Flock
Prepare your flock for the shearing day, whether you’re shearing your sheep or recruiting others. Before shearing, keep your sheep dry for a day or two, as wet and even moist sheep can not be sheared. For at least 12 hours before shearing, do not feed or water your sheep so that their stomachs are not full and they will be able to rest, turn and bend more comfortably. Keep your sheep away from materials such as poly tarp and poly twine before shearing, so that it is not stuck to the fleece of your sheep and mixed during shearing with the fur. Giving him access to food and water immediately after shearing each specimen. Ensure that all of them have ample shelter without their wool for at least the first few days.
Since 1990, Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and publisher. She started working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her background involves editing a workout manual and publishing it. She has an extended pet family, including animals with special needs. Jensen attended the State Universities of Idaho and Boise. Her dissertation has appeared in numerous magazines in print and online.
Shearing sheep, which means using electric or manual clippers to cut their fur, is no simple task. It’s humid, dirty and time-consuming, but if you raise sheep, it is a necessity. While some breeds have wool that grows faster and requires shearing twice a year, most sheep breeds need to be sheared at least once a year.
Why Shear the Shear?
Making them more secure is the main aim of shearing sheep. Wool keeps in heat, making it suitable for spinning into yarn used to make garments such as sweaters for cold weather, which is the secondary explanation why many sheep are sheared. But in the summer, sheep may become overheated under all that wool. The wool keeps gradually growing longer and thicker, so each sheep must be sheared at least once a year to prevent the wool from being too uncomfortable for the sheep or being too matted with dirt and grass. And if you raise sheep instead of wool for milk or cheese, you will need to shear them to keep them safe.
Twice a year, right?
With annual shearings, most sheep do well, but some breeds develop wool faster and have to be sheared more frequently. There is wool that can grow up to an inch every month for breeds such as Cotswolds, Icelandics and Lincolns, which means you shouldn’t wait a whole year before cutting the wool. When you raise sheep for their fur, shearing them twice a year gives you cleaner, fresher, more attractive wool.
When to Shear Shear
In the spring, most shepherds tend to shear their sheep to get the sheep’s heavy wool off before the warm weather creeps in. In the late spring, many ewes deliver lambs, and shearing around a month before the lambs are due is easier on the moms than waiting before or after the births are near their due dates. A month prior to lambing, shearing helps your ewes to get over the shearing stress before the lambs arrive. They may also be encouraged to eat more, which they need in the last few weeks of their pregnancy. If you’re shooting twice a year, shoot in early spring and late summer or early fall. In order to grow enough wool to keep them warm in the winter, sheep need at least six weeks. The second shearing does not produce as much wool as the shearing of the spring, but it ensures the wool of the spring will be newer and cleaner.
Crutching is shearing just a few parts of the sheep, usually the rear end of the sheep and between her hind legs. This is most prevalent in women, however to keep faeces off the wool, some shepherds crutch males. For women, it helps to keep them cleaner as they deliver lambs, and without having to dig through fur, the lambs may reach the udders of their mothers easier. In between shearings, crutching is only appropriate, such as for ewes that deliver lambs instead of spring in the winter.