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The shearing season is upon us!

by Sarabeth Parido




Fiber production is a continuous endeavor, with our woolly companions spending a whole year growing their fleece, only for it to be whisked away in a matter of minutes. Here are some pointers to ensure your shearing day goes smoothly, maximizing the value of your fleeces.


  • Keep your animals dry and gathered in one spot:   Shearing wet animals is tough on everyone involved - the animals, the shearers, the equipment, and ultimately, your fleeces. Wet fleeces are prone to mold and mildew. Ensure your animals are in a designated holding area for easy access during shearing.

  • Fast before shearing: Empty stomachs are crucial for small ruminants before shearing. A full belly can strain their breathing cause stress, potentially leading to fatal consequences. Even pregnant ewes can safely fast for the 12-hour period recommended by shearers without affecting their lambs' development.

  • Clean up your working areas: Prior to shearing day, tidy up both the holding and shearing areas to avoid contaminating the fleece with dirt or mud. Keep a broom handy to sweep the shearing area between each animal to prevent mixing different colored wool or second cuts into the fleece.

  • Check your power source: If electricity is needed for shearing and isn't readily available, ensure you have heavy-duty extension cords on hand. Test the outlets beforehand to avoid tripping breakers, which can lead to unnecessary frustration and delays.

  • Arrange for assistance: Many producers utilize shearing day to accomplish various tasks while their animals are gathered. Coordinate with your shearer regarding additional procedures like hoof trimming or vaccinations post-shearing. Having extra hands on deck will help ensure a smooth process and prevent any bottlenecks.

Interested in learning to shear your own sheep?  Mark your calendars because UK is preparing a shearing school this spring- April 16-17.  Registration will open in March- space is extremely limited- so be sure to keep watching our website and social media for more information!


For further guidance on raising fiber animals, consider enrolling in our online course "Wool School," available on our website at www.kysheepandgoat.org/shop.


 

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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