A lot of people think shearing a sheep is a difficult thing to do, but with the proper tutorial and some help you can really do it yourself. If you learn how to do it properly, and with some practice, you might end up becoming a professional. Shearing your sheep is the best way to keep your sheep healthy and groomed.
There are many different tools available for shearing sheep, but it is important to look for the right ones that are effective when you use them. If you like to shear the traditional way, or you do not have access to electricity, using a hand shear can be the solution for you.
To shear your sheep with a hand shear, follow these steps:
- Step 1: Get The Equipment Ready
- Step 2: Prepare The Area
- Step 3: Get Your Sheep In A Comfortable Position
- Step 4: Start Shearing The Belly
- Step 5: Move To The Legs And The Crotch
- Step 6: Move To The Neck, Chest, And Chin
- Step 7: Get To The Left And Right Shoulder
- Step 8: Remove The Dirty From The Fleece
Shearing a sheep is not very technical as long as you master the procedure. When you cut your sheep’s coat, you avoid pests, infection, and heat. In this article, we will discuss step-by-step procedures on how to go about it so that the next time you do not struggle in any way.
- How Do You Shear Your Sheep?
- ● Step 1: Get The Equipment Ready
- ● Step 2: Prepare The Area
- ● Step 3: Get Your Sheep In A Comfortable Position
- ● Step 4: Start Shearing The Belly
- ● Step 5: Move To The Legs And The Crotch
- ● Step 6: Move To The Neck, Chest, And Chin
- ● Step 7: Get To The Left And Right Shoulder
- ● Step 8: Remove The Dirty From The Fleece
- Things to consider buying a hand shear
- Here Is A Brand You Should Check Out if You’re Interested In Hand Shears
- FAQs on Shaving Your Sheep With Hand Shears
- Hand-shearing Sheep
- • The Technique of Blade Shearing
- • The Blade Shearer’s Tool Kit
- • The Commercial Blade Shearer’s Day
- • International Practice of Blade Shearing
- • Blade Shearing as a Sport
- • Alternatives to Shearing Collecting Fallen Wool and Keeping Woolless Breeds
- • Choosing the Perfect Shears 6-inch Blades and Various Designs
- • Hand Shearing Step-by-step Guide to Shearing a Sheep
- • Aftercare Rolling the Fleece
- • Fleece Storage Understanding Wool Quality and Storage
- • Registration Process The British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB)
- • Importance of Treating Flystrike Preventing a Rampant Condition
- • Preventative Measures Tackling Flystrike
- The Importance of Shearing for Sheep Health and Well-being
- • Timing and Professional Consultation for Shearing
- • Gathering Necessary Shearing Equipment
- • Creating a Controlled Environment
- • Correct Sheep Positioning for Shearing
- • Shearing Process
- • Tips on Making Shearing Cuts
- • Managing Sheep Skin during Shearing
- • Skirting and Rolling Fleece
- • Shearing Precautions
- • Necessary Equipment for Shearing
- • Further Information on Sheep Shearing
- Safety Risks Associated with Hand Shearing
- Necessity of Shearing Sheep
How Do You Shear Your Sheep?
● Step 1: Get The Equipment Ready
Having the right equipment before you start shearing your sheep is very important. It does not matter if you have any experience or not. All you need is a quality hand shear that will make the process safe for you and your sheep. Ensure that the shears are sharp before you start working. This is because dull equipment is harmful to your sheep. Besides, dull shears are really difficult to use.
● Step 2: Prepare The Area
Ensure that the area where you intend to shear your sheep looks clean. It should be a confined area where you can easily control your sheep. Ensure that there is no water in the area. You do not want your wool to get wet. It is an ideal way to see to it that the wool does not get dirty.
● Step 3: Get Your Sheep In A Comfortable Position
You should calmly take your sheep from its pen and walk it to the shearing area. It is important to put your sheep in a position that makes it easy to get the wool and make the shearing process easy. The belly should be exposed and support the shoulders between your knees before you start shaving. Ensure that the animal is comfortable as it makes it easier for the sheep not to struggle.
● Step 4: Start Shearing The Belly
Starting with the belly is the best course of action. Most of the wool is dirty and might be of less value. In case you are right-handed, use your right hand to shear and the left one to tighten its skin, vice versa if you are left-handed. It is the perfect way to remove the belly wool intact. Ensure your shearing strokes are long and confident so that you can get all the fleece in one piece.
● Step 5: Move To The Legs And The Crotch
Once you are done with the belly, the next place should be the hind legs and the crotch. The best way to shear these areas is to hold the sheep between your knees and bring your hand shears up to the right leg. Move it across and remove the wool in the crotch area. These blows might need to be done more than once to remove the wool. However, when shaving this area, you are advised to keep the sheep’s teats covered with your less dominant hand. This way you prevent yourself from shaving them off accidentally. You need to shear the left leg and move to the tail, then finish with the backbone.
● Step 6: Move To The Neck, Chest, And Chin
You need to move your right foot and make sure it is in the sheep’s legs, and hold its body firmly in between your knees. Your left arm should grab the sheep below its chin, and stretch it backward. Bring the hand shears and shave towards the neck but stop below its chin. You have to be careful in this area to ensure that you do not hurt your sheep.
● Step 7: Get To The Left And Right Shoulder
The shoulders are the trickiest parts to shave. Ensure you are in the right position. You need to balance your weight on the sheep so that you can cut it without a struggle. Again, since this area is wrinkled, use your hands to tighten the skin. It is the best way to get smooth blows and avoid cutting the sheep’s skin. Start with thickness and move to its left shoulder. The last place you would have to shear would be its right shoulder. Repeat the same procedure you did for the left shoulder. It will only take a few seconds with the right blow, and you will be done in a short time.
● Step 8: Remove The Dirty From The Fleece
If your goal is to sell the wool, make sure it is marketable. That is why you should skirt it. Skirting means removing the dirty wool that you cannot sell if it has color or is matted. Once that is done, you should dry it with the flesh on the outside so that it is ready for the market.
Things to consider buying a hand shear
Ensure that the shears are big enough when buying so that they are easy to carry around. If the tool is too heavy, it becomes impossible to shear your sheep comfortably. The best hand shearing equipment should be light so that you can move from one side to the next without struggling.
Ensure that you do not spend a lot of money to buy sheep shears because there are too many brands that offer great deals. In most cases, you will come across shears, which are exorbitantly priced. Carefully look for extra features such as how easy it is to shave the sheep. Also check for if it is made of stainless blades, then decide if the prices are worth it. Compare the price offered by different firms before deciding on which one to invest in, consider your budget before spending a lot of money.
● How Easy Is It To Adjust The Blades?
You need to ensure that the blades can be adjusted to reduce blade tension. If the blades are too tight, shearing your sheep becomes difficult. However, tight blades are the best for the heavy wool. Ensure that you can loosen the blades if the need arises.
Here Is A Brand You Should Check Out if You’re Interested In Hand Shears
Ensure you search for the ideal hand, shears make your work easy, but you should work with the right brand. One of the best brands is:
● Zenport Zl122g Sheep Shear
These shears are made from carbon steel, which makes it a perfect deal for heavy-duty shaving. There are designed with long blades that give your sheep a nice finish. It has an ergonomic handle that makes it comfortable to hold. This shear also comes with locking pins, which makes it easy to keep them safe.
- The shear is affordable.
- It is easy to use
- You do not require electricity to operate it.
- The shears do not open too wide, which makes it hard to shear your sheep well.
FAQs on Shaving Your Sheep With Hand Shears
● How Long Does It Take To Shear Your Sheep By Hand?
It all depends on if the sheep are cooperative or not. Make sure that you are comfortable holding the shears as it will take you around thirty minutes to one hour. Note that your experience shearing sheep determines the amount of time that it will take you.
● When Should You Shear A Sheep?
Some months are better for you to shear your sheep than others. It is best to shave the sheep when you need to get rid of their one-year wool. It is also the best way to give your sheep enough time to grow a new coat before the winter.
● How Many Times Should You Shear Your Sheep?
If you are dealing with an adult sheep, once a year should be enough. However, shaving can occur throughout the year, depending on the climate and the tools needed. You should avoid shearing your sheep in the winter season to ensure that it does not suffer during the cold season.
Shearing your sheep is a necessity and helpful to the welfare of the animal. The fact that sheep cannot shed their wool like other animals means that it traps dust and pests. The ideal way to keep it clean and healthy is by shaving it consistently. Having excess wool makes it hard for sheep to regulate its temperature, Other harmful items like feces and urine can get trapped in the sheep’s wool. If you want to protect it, shearing should be done using the right tools.
That is why hand shears are an essential tool for any sheep owner. It may seem like a hard tool to use, but once you find the right brand, your work becomes easy. A lot of people might feel as if it’s not necessary, especially with the technological advances and many electrical shears being made. However, with hand shears, you can shave your sheep whenever you want.
• The Technique of Blade Shearing
Blade shearing is traditionally a time-honored method of shearing sheep and other mammals with fibrous coats. This technique stems from the time when humans started classifying fibrous substances for the fabrication of clothes and other necessities.
Its ongoing practice represents one of the oldest continuously running occupations in the world.
• The Blade Shearer’s Tool Kit
Blade shearing equipment shares a striking resemblance with scissors, though the specifics of the tool may differ considerably. These tools vary in length as well as the type of bows they incorporate. Typically, the tool kit for blade shearing includes specialized tools for the maintenance and adjustment of the shears.
These tools are instrumental in honing blade shears to keep them in optimal condition. Keeping shears sharp ensures a clean cut and minimizes the risk of discomfort or injury to the animal. Shears vary in size and style, some specifically designed for different types of wool or varying climatic conditions.
• The Commercial Blade Shearer’s Day
Consider the average working day of commercial blade shearers, which is nothing short of impressive. Competent shearers can work their way through an astonishing 140 sheep in an eight-hour working day. This figure is subject to variation, with less experienced or physically capable shearers likely achieving lower numbers.
The number of animals sheared in a day might also be dependent on the breed of the sheep and the type of wool they possess. Nonetheless, even at a lower rate, the shearing of sheep is a significant task requiring both physical stamina and expertise.
• International Practice of Blade Shearing
Blade shearing continues to be practiced in numerous nations, and the reasons for maintaining this traditional technique are as varied as the countries themselves. In certain regions, harsh weather circumstances may necessitate blade shearing, primarily because electric alternatives can pose risks in soggy conditions.
Meanwhile, other regions might opt for blade shearing due to cost preferences. Even though modern electric shears are becoming cheaper and more accessible, there are still regions where the traditional method is more cost-effective and preferable.
For instance, in New Zealand, where shearing sheep is both a staple of the rural economy and a source of national pride, blade shearing still has its place. Check out the Te Ara Encyclopedia for more information about the tradition and practice of shearing in New Zealand.
• Blade Shearing as a Sport
Somewhat surprisingly, blade shearing isn’t limited to commercial wool production. It’s also a recognized sport, with international tournaments held and judged according to speed and neatness. Competitors are expected to maintain the well-being of the animal while shearing as quickly and neatly as possible.
This type of competition requires a unique blend of strength, agility, and finesse. These events also promote the tradition of blade shearing and provide an opportunity for blade shearers to demonstrate their extraordinary skill and expertise.
To anyone considering taking up blade shearing, either as a profession or a hobby, I would recommend investing in quality tools and taking the time to learn the trade properly. It is a skill that requires time and practice to master, but once mastered, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling occupation or pastime.
Whether you intend to shear commercially, compete in shearing competitions, or simply maintain your own flock, blade shearing is a technique worth understanding.
• Alternatives to Shearing Collecting Fallen Wool and Keeping Woolless Breeds
Understanding that shearing is not the only option for wool collection is critical. An alternative method is collecting fallen wool, which naturally sheds from certain sheep breeds. Keeping woolless breeds, such as the Dorper or the Katahdin, can also help mitigate the need for regular shearing.
• Choosing the Perfect Shears 6-inch Blades and Various Designs
Choosing the right shearing tool is the cornerstone of the entire process. I recommend using shears with 6-inch blades for hand shearing. There are different designs and sizes available on the market that can cater to your specific needs. For further details, consider referring to resources provided by Cornell University.
• Hand Shearing Step-by-step Guide to Shearing a Sheep
Hand shearing a sheep requires a certain level of competence. The process includes shearing the brisket, belly, crutch, hind leg, tail, neck, shoulder, and long blows. Following a systematic process ensures that the wool is harvested efficiently and the sheep are unharmed.
• Aftercare Rolling the Fleece
Once the sheep have been sheared, the next stage involves wool preparation. Roll the fleece carefully, ensuring the outer side touches only itself. Remove any daggings, or dirty wool, from the fleece to ensure only high-quality wool is stored. The fleece should then be secured with a twisted neck wool.
• Fleece Storage Understanding Wool Quality and Storage
The fleece can be divided into different quality areas for separate storage. This division aids in the utilization of wool as the quality of the fiber influences its use.
• Registration Process The British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB)
If you keep more than four adult sheep, registration is necessary with the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB). This entity controls the selling of wool in the United Kingdom.
• Importance of Treating Flystrike Preventing a Rampant Condition
Flystrike is a harmful condition for sheep caused when flies lay their eggs in damp and soiled wool. This can result in severe health problems for the sheep and damage to their wool.
• Preventative Measures Tackling Flystrike
To prevent flystrike, it is best to shear the sheep before the high-risk period. This high-risk period typically initiates in spring but can vary depending on the region. Additional preventative measures should be implemented to protect the sheep, such as regularly checking for early signs of disease.
Overall, the shearing process encompasses a variety of stages – from shearing to aftercare, and even includes points such as quality control and prevention of flystrike.
With the right technique, tools, and practices, wool shearing can be a manageable process, ensuring the best results for the wool and the welfare of the sheep.
The Importance of Shearing for Sheep Health and Well-being
Shearing is not merely grooming. It’s a pivotal practice promoting the health and well-being of the sheep. By removing the wool, we are preventing potential infections caused by external parasites, enhancing fertility in rams, and ensuring better care for newborn lambs.
Overly thick wool also puts sheep at a higher risk of heat stress during summer months.
• Timing and Professional Consultation for Shearing
The ideal shearing period varies, depending on the local climate and farm management system. However, most frequently, shearing happens once a year, often in late spring ahead of the hot summer. In more extensive wool breeds, a second shear may take place in the fall.
When in doubt, consult a shearing professional for advice. Websites such as Sheep Production can provide location-specific guidance.
• Gathering Necessary Shearing Equipment
Shearing requires particular tools. Regular maintenance of shearing equipment is vital to prevent harm to the sheep or inefficiencies in the shearing process. Essential tools include a shearing machine, combs, cutters, screwdrivers, and oil.
A shearing belt and a moccasin or shearing boots can protect the shearer’s back and provide a better grip, respectively.
• Creating a Controlled Environment
For effective and safe shearing, herd your sheep into a pen. This controlled environment allows for easy and calmer handling, limiting potential harm to both the shearer and the sheep. A non-slip surface is preferable to lessen the chance of accidents during the shearing process.
• Correct Sheep Positioning for Shearing
Correct positioning is crucial during the shearing process. Keep the sheep’s body between your legs, applying light pressure to keep it still. An animal well-secured within the shearer’s grip lessens the risk of cuts or other injuries.
• Shearing Process
Shearing follows a specific sequence. Start with the belly, inside of the hind legs and crotch areas often soiled and thus containing lower-quality wool. Subsequently, shear the left hind leg and tail, chest, neck, and then the chin. Proceed to the left shoulder, then along the sheep’s back.
Finally, shear the right side, beginning with the head, down to the neck, shoulders, right foreleg, and flank, ending on the right leg and hindquarters.
• Tips on Making Shearing Cuts
When shearing, make long, confident blows. Aim to cut as close to the skin as possible without hurting the sheep. Avoid second cuts; these are small snippets of wool left over from an incomplete first cut. These snippets devalue the wool by increasing processing costs.
• Managing Sheep Skin during Shearing
Your left hand plays an essential role during shearing. Use it to pull the skin taut, reducing the possibility of cuts and ensuring an even wool clip.
• Skirting and Rolling Fleece
Once sheared, skirt the fleece to remove soiled and lower-quality wool. Roll the fleece carefully, keeping the outer (best quality) layer on the outside. Wool handling knowledge is as essential as shearing skills itself.
• Shearing Precautions
Always prioritize both your safety and the sheep’s. Ensure sharp blades are handled and stored correctly. Keep the shearing area clean and free of distractions. Animal handling should be calm and efficient to minimize stress for both sheep and shearer.
• Necessary Equipment for Shearing
The key tools for shearing are the shearing machine, combs and cutters, screwdrivers for equipment maintenance, and oil for the machine. Other essentials include a shearing belt to protect the shearer’s back and anti-slip footwear.
• Further Information on Sheep Shearing
For more extensive knowledge about sheep shearing, consider publications from trusted agricultural institutions. Websites like the American Sheep Industry Association offer a wealth of information on all aspects of sheep farming, including sheep shearing.
Shearing is a time-honored skill that sustains not only the sheep’s health but also the farmer’s livelihood. Every shearer’s aim should be clean, efficient cuts with the utmost regard for the animal’s well-being. Balancing speed and care certainly comes with practice and the right knowledge at hand.
Safety Risks Associated with Hand Shearing
Hand shearing presents certain risks to both humans and sheep. An incorrect approach can result in injuries to the shearer or trauma to the sheep.
Some of the potential pitfalls include accidental cuts to your skin or the sheep’s skin due to improper handling of the shears. It is critical to comprehend these risks to circumvent them.
• Types of Hand Shears
Hand shears come in various types, each equipped with distinct features fine-tuned to suit the shearer’s needs. When selecting shears for your needs, certain factors to consider include blade length and sharpness. The UC Davis Veterinary Medicine website provides comprehensive information on different types of shears.
• The Art of Handling Sheep
Handling sheep during the shearing process requires specific skills to ensure both parties’ wellbeing. It’s essential to grasp the correct holding positions to limit the sheep’s movements, thus minimizing the risk of any accidental injuries.
• Maintenance of Shears
Proper maintenance of your shears is imperative for effective shearing. This entails regular cleaning to remove debris and rust, coupled with proper storage. A clean, well-maintained shear reduces the difficulty of cutting and increases the lifespan of the tool.
• Shearing Techniques for Beginners
Here are some tips that can help beginners hone their shearing skills:
- Keep a steady hand: Precision is key in shearing and a steady hand aids in maintaining a consistent cutting flow.
- Use proper strokes: Familiarize yourself with the correct strokes to prevent unnecessary strain on the sheep and ease the stress on your arms.
• Discarding Sheared Wool and Waste
Dealing with the removed wool and waste is a key part of the process. Ensure that you dispose of all waste responsibly, adhering to your local agricultural waste guidelines.
• Additional Shearing Tools and Equipment
Additional equipment, such as a first aid kit, is crucial when shearing. Protective gear like gloves can also mitigate the risk of cuts or scratches.
• Post-Shearing Care for Sheep
After shearing, give extra care to your sheep. Monitor their temperature regularly and afford any necessary treatments to prevent post-shearing complications such as hypothermia.
• Potential Benefits of Hand Shearing
One of the major benefits of hand shearing is the reduced stress for the sheep. Moreover, if you desire to leave some fleece for insulation purposes, hand shearing provides you with the finesse to achieve that.
Hand shearing is a skill that is easily mastered with understanding. Armed with the information above, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert hand shearer. Always remember, the wellbeing of the sheep is paramount, so approach the process with care and patience.
Necessity of Shearing Sheep
Shearing sheep is a routine task done to ensure their health and cleanliness. It helps in temperature regulation and prevents the accumulation of harmful items in their wool. As a shepherd, you need to understand the process in order to minimize harm to the sheep.
• Importance of Having the Right Equipment
Having the right equipment is the first step in sheep shearing. Most importantly, shears need to be sharp for the process to be efficient and to minimize harm to the animal.
The Zenport Z122g Sheep shear, with its carbon steel blades, long blades for a nice finish, ergonomic handle, and locking pins for safety, is a personal recommendation. Zenport focuses on the design and features desired by professional shearers.
• Preparing the Shearing Area
Preparation before shearing is crucial. The shearing area should be clean and dry. Water or damp conditions will cause the wool to get wet, making it harder to shear. Furthermore, dirty wool reduces the post-shearing marketability of the fleece.
• Making the Sheep Comfortable
Before getting started with shearing, place the sheep in a comfortable position. Commonly, their belly should be exposed and their shoulders supported between the shearer’s knees. This minimizes stress on the animal and allows for a smoother shearing process.
• Steps of Shearing
Begin with the belly, followed by the legs, crotch, neck, chest, and chin. In my experience, the shoulders are often the trickiest areas. However, balancing your weight on the sheep and tightening the skin can help achieve smooth cuts without injuring the animal.
• After Shearing
Once you’ve completed the shearing process, it’s important to remove any dirty wool from the fleece. This guarantees your fleece’s marketability. It’s not just about getting the wool but providing quality wool to the market.
• Choosing the Right Shears
When buying hand shears, factors to consider include size, affordability, and the ease of adjusting the blades. Again, the Zenport Z122g Sheep shear is a good model to consider.
• Timing of Shearing Process
The duration of the shearing process can vary. It largely depends on the sheep’s cooperation and the shearer’s level of experience. On average, it takes around 30 minutes to one hour.
• Optimal Time for Shearing
Shearing is ideally done when the sheep’s one-year wool needs to be removed, giving it ample time to grow a new coat before winter. Each climate presents different considerations, but the general rule is one shear per year.
• Frequency of Shearing
Most adult sheep only require shearing once per year. However, additional shearing may be required depending on the climate. Keep in mind, the frequency of shearing is directly related to the equipment used. Hand shears provide flexibility and can be used whenever necessary.
• Sheep Shearing as an Essential Welfare Practice
I cannot overemphasize how essential shearing is for maintaining sheep’s health. Visit Cornell Universitys Veterinary Medicine’s site to understand the array of health benefits that come with regular shearing.
Remember, shearing is not just about extracting the wool; it’s about ensuring the welfare of your sheep. It should be done with precision and caution and always with the right tools. Never compromise on the quality of your tools; if you do, you risk causing discomfort or harm to your sheep.