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Shear Success

Tips for a Successful Shearing Day

by Sarabeth Parido


It’s that time of year again - time to shear!


Fiber production is a year-round process. Our fiber animals spend a year growing the fleece, and it all comes off in just a few minutes. Here’s a few tips on how to make your shearing day a success and in turn, add the most value to your fleeces.


Make sure your animals are kept dry and are collected in one area

Most shearers will not shear wet animals. It’s hard on the animals, hard on the shearer, hard on the equipment and hard on your fleeces. Fleeces that are stored wet will be prone to mold and mildew. Your shearer is comfortable with livestock, as they are professionals, but do not expect them to chase your animals down for you. Your animals should be in a holding area where you can easily retrieve each one and get them to the shearing area as easily as possible.


Remove all feed and water from the sheep and goats 12 hours before shearing

Your small ruminants need an empty rumen before shearing. When they have a full belly, it will impact their diaphragm and can labor their breathing. This will stress your animal and can be fatal if you or your shearer do not notice their distress quickly enough. Your sheep, even your pregnant ewes, can safely go the 12 hours recommended by shearers without food and water. Studies have shown that this small amount of time will not negatively impact their growing lambs.


Have your holding and shearing area cleaned up

Use a few days before your shearer arrives to sweep out your holding area and your shearing area. You don’t want to run the risk of contaminating your fleeces by penning them in an area with dirty bedding or mud. You will want to have a broom handy to sweep the shearing area between animals so that you don’t get second cuts or different colored wool from the last sheep mixed into your fleece.


Test your electricity

If you or your shearer is using electricity and it’s not already supplied in your barn or in your shearing area, a few heavy duty extension cords will work fine. Be sure to test the outlets and make sure that you aren’t tripping a breaker as that will lead to a lot of frustration and added stress to your day.

Have helped lined up Many producers use shearing day to get many important tasks done while their animals are all in one space. Communication with your shearer is important, so let them know if you’ll be addressing hooves or giving vaccinations after they are sheared. You’ll want a couple extra hands with you to accomplish your goals and make sure that you don’t create a backup in the shearing process.


For a more on raising animals for fiber-consider taking our online course “Wool School” available on our website now.


 

Sarabeth Parido, is the Director of the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival and The Kentucky Fiber Trail. She raises her own small flock of sheep in Clark County, Kentucky along with her husband and four sons.



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