Preparing the Sheep Flock for Shearing
Table of Contents
Shearing is a job that must be done each year. Preparing your facilities and flock properly will make the job much easier on everyone involved.
Sheep must be dry to be sheared! Sheep with wet wool should not be sheared! This includes dew, or in some cases frost.
Sheep should be held off feed and water at least eight hours before shearing. The flock should never come straight off pasture to be sheared. Grass, and some hay, will build up gas and back up onto the lung area during shearing and cause what is called a gasper. If the animal is not put on its' feet right away it will die of suffocation.
Stained wet wool and manure tags should be removed before sheep are penned.
Avoid penning sheep in dirty pens or on bare concrete floors.
White faced, white wooled sheep should be sheared first; dark faced or coloured wool sheep last.
White wool and coloured wool should not be packed in the same bag.
To properly skirt a fleece before packing, the wool should be placed cut side down on a slotted surface. Any manure or urine stained wool should be removed. Leg and face clippings should also be removed. The shearers should have removed the belly wool when shearing. Sometimes some discoloured wool is left along the bottom edge of the side wool. This should also be removed. In the case of breeds such as Suffolk and Hampshire or any other dark faced and dark legged animal, there may be dark fibers around the edges of the fleece that should also be taken out.
When properly skirted and cleaned the fleece should be folded lengthwise, a third over a third, then the other third folded over the top and then rolled from the tail to the head before being packed. Pack only in burlap bags; never in plastic.
Have adequate adult helpers to keep the job moving. Have a flat level surface for the shearer to work on with lots of head room with good lighting and ventilation. If extension cords are necessary have cords heavy enough to carry the load. Household lamp cords are not sufficient to carry the load required.
With some modern long legged breeds, the shearer should have an area 8 x 8 feet to work in.
Have a good corn broom, not a heavy stable broom, to keep the shearing area swept when necessary.
Keep a small pen filled for catching sheep out of for the shearer. Sheep chased around a large pen before coming to the shearing floor will continue to fight while being sheared.
No shearer deliberately cuts a sheep. If you wish to put a disinfectant on any nicks or cuts have your spray bottle at hand before shearing starts. The shearer is not going to hold a sheep for five or ten minutes while you try to find your spray bottle.
Do not trim feet before giving the sheep to the shearer.
Have sufficient help to take the sheep from the shearer and do your foot trimming, vaccinations and worming after shearing.
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