Teaching sheep shearing
Overdue for shearing
Freshly shorn sheep
Hair x wool cross
You need a hair cut
Cutting or shaving the wool off of a sheep is called shearing.
Shearing doesn't usually hurt a sheep. It's just like getting a hair cut.
However, shearing requires skill so that the sheep is shorn efficiently
and quickly without causing cuts or injury to the sheep or shearer.
Most sheep are sheared with electric shears or shearing machines.
Some sheep are sheared manually with scissors or hand blades.
While some farmers shear their own sheep, many hire professional
sheep shearers. In many countries, including the United States,
there is a growing shortage of qualified sheep shearers. Many
states hold annual sheep shearing schools.
A professional shearer can shear a sheep in less than 2 minutes
and will remove the fleece in one piece. The world record for
shearing sheep is 839 lambs in 9 hours by Rodney Sutton of New
Zealand (2000) and 720 ewes in 9 hours by Darin Forde of New Zealand.
The most sheep shorn in an 8 hour period using hand blades is
50 by Janos Marton of Hungary (2003).
Tube video of sheep shearing=>
Sheep are usually sheared once per year, usually before lambing
or in the spring before the onset of warm weather. Sheep with
long fleeces are sometimes sheared twice a year. Feeder lambs
are sometimes sheared to make them more comfortable during the
summer. Shearing prior to lambing results in a cleaner environment
for baby lambs. It also keeps the fleeces cleaner.
High quality fleeces should be skirted. Skirting is when the undesirable
parts of the fleece are removed from the rest of the fleece. Undesirables
include bellies, top knots, and tags.
Because sheep shearing is so labor-intensive, other technologies
are often being explored for more efficient wool removal. Australian
scientists created a chemical method of shearing called "bio-clip."
With bio-clip, the sheep are injected with a natural protein that
causes the wool follicle to break and the fleece to drop off on
Scientists have developed a shearing table so the shearer doesn't
have to hold the sheep. They have also developed a "robot"
Freshly shorn sheep
Freshly shorn sheep need protection from the elements. It takes
up to six weeks for the fleece to regrow sufficiently to provide
effective insulation. Sheared sheep also require more feed to
maintain their body temperatures, especially during the winter.
Sheep grow wool continuously. If they are not sheared at least
once a year, they become very stressed and uncomfortable, especially
when it is hot and humid. Eventually, the wool will become matted, stained, and difficult to remove. It is inhumane to not shear sheep that require it.
Hair sheep do not require shearing because they lack sufficient
wool fibers or because their coats naturally shed. However, crosses
between hair sheep and wooled breeds may need to be sheared. Their
fleeces are not desirable because they contain a mixture of hair
and wool fibers. They should be disgarded. It takes anywhere
from 1 to 3 generations of crossing to eliminate the need for
shearing for the crossbred progeny.
<== RAISING SHEEP