Monday, February 27, 2017

Shepherdess Notes: FACTS about Sheep Shearing





Our 2017 sheep shearing day is scheduled! 2016 was a great year, and the mill has been empty. We will have over 50 fleeces this year, and I am excited that we will be knee deep in wool once again.



(repost from 2014)

Sometimes I am surprised by some of the "rumors' that fly around about farming.

One example of that is about sheep shearing. I have read articles that talk about the horrors of shearing sheep.  Last I checked, all of my sheep survive the shearing experience. Actually they handle it better than my toddlers did during their first hair cut!

I have heard that sheep are abused while being shorn,  even experiencing bodily injury. An experienced shearer knows how to handle a sheep,  and most of the time the sheep handle it pretty well. The lambs and yearling ewes are a little more high strung about it, but the shearer does not harm them.  Occasionally a ewe will get a nick from the clippers, but an experienced shearer usually doesn't leave a scratch!
A good reason to hire an experienced sheep shearer. They do make the experience easier on everyone!
( I think I  have received more injuries during shearing days, than the sheep :) )

I have heard about the unnecessary stress that sheep are put through by shearing because  a sheep will only grow the amount of wool it needs. False!  I keep sheep, we have missed shearing times, the wool gets VERY long, matted, dirty, and collects manure tags.

I have heard claims that sheep would shed their wool, naturally before summer. If only! I have never had a sheep shed its wool. If they did we wouldn't have to hire a shearer every year.

Our sheep will grow fleeces that weigh between 7-11 pounds annually.  After shearing, our sheep bounce around like lambs. I personally think they appreciate that hair wool cut!

If you visit a farm on shearing day, you will see the sheep are handled with care, and the shearing experience takes but a few minutes.( We have our home school group coming out on shearing day, I assure you, there will be no children watching on in horror as the sheep get their annual clipping.)

Any smart farmer will not want harm to come to his/her animals. Why would they? They are an investment! It only makes sense to take care of that investment. If I had a shearer that abused my animals, or left them injured, I would be looking for a new shearer.

We pay for these sheep, they are not cheap. Most of our  ewes live their lives out here, we take good care of them. In return, they give us beautiful wool fleeces and lambs. Win, Win!

For other post on shearing:

http://www.mittenstatesheepandwool.com/2013/03/spring-shearingdone.html

http://www.mittenstatesheepandwool.com/2013/03/sheep-shearing-scheduled.html


Wear Wool! (sorry, I couldn't resist...)


  photo number2sig_zps2f1f6501.png

32 comments:

  1. GREAT POST Sandra we need to get the really truth out there on Farming and its practices. Hug B

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    Replies
    1. Thanks!
      I think a lot of people have never been on a farm-education is needed. Some of the "stuff" out there is just ridiculous!

      Delete
  2. Thank you for spreading the word that shearing is a normal, pain-free process, Sandra. I've had friends with sheep and other than an occasional nick from the clippers, all seemed happy to have shed that extra weight.

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  3. Can I dispel another myth, please? Sheep do NOT automatically go limp during shearing. Some breeds are more submissive/passive and will sit still for the most part. I can atest first-hand that Shetlands are a bit more fiesty, and they WILL try to get loose if they see an opportunity. The more experienced the shearer, the quicker the job, the happier the sheep. On another note, I did have one ram that shed his wool each spring. It was fantastic! He would stand still for me while I literally plucked it off his back. Although I did have to spend time in the pasture picking up handfuls that had dropped off during the day. We tried but were unsuccessful at breeding this trait into his offspring.

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    1. very true! We have never had a sheep go limp, but most stay pretty calm through it :)
      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the discussion!

      Delete
  4. The same people whining about how inhumane sheering is probably have wool socks or a sweater or two. Keep that yarn coming!!!

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    Replies
    1. Will continue to supply as much wool as I possibly can. I love wool :)

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  5. Hit the nail on the head with the investment comment! I've never understood why people think that the majority of people would waste that much money by being cruel to an animal they have put that much money into. Same goes for rodeo stock. Why on earth would you not care for your investments? Besides, most of us love animals as much if not more than some of the loudest protesters. I doubt they would let a calf/lamb/chick poop all over their house or vehicle while nursing it back to health. :)

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    Replies
    1. I can't understand it either.
      yes, we have had lambs in the house too!

      Delete
  6. Thanks for clearing up some of the misconceptions!

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  7. We open our shearing up to the public every year--and we certainly wouldn't invite people in to watch us "abuse" our sheep every year! Our sheep don't "go limp" but once they are positioned by someone that is holding them securely and firmly, they "give up" and relax. An experienced shearer makes all the difference. And like you said, these are our core flock of animals that we depend on year after year, we wouldn't want anything bad happening to them--especially EVERY YEAR! :/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sheep Shearing Days. sounds like a fun time :)
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!!

      Delete
  8. I have to shear my two sheep soon and I am so not looking forward to it. I did it years ago on a 4H sheep and remember none of it. I want to do it myself though, because I don't want someone else handling them the way I have seen them handled when I look for help on You Tube. I hope I don't hurt myself or them.

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    1. We have shorn a few ourselves. It is much easier on them when the shearer does it, he gets done in 3 minutes what I would do in 20. If they are really use to being handled you may have an easier time of it. My husband took some classes on shearing. There is a knack to handling the sheep and keeping them calm about it. But I know a few people that have a few and do it themselves. Good luck :)

      Delete
  9. Love this! Our sheep, being hair sheep, will shed their wool every spring but not so much that they look like they have been shorn. We do have someone come out and shear because we want all that luscious wool. I am hoping that this warm weather stays around so that they can be shorn at the end of the month before lambing season starts.

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    Replies
    1. I hope you have warm weather for your shearing. It looks like it is going to be a little cold the day we have it scheduled.
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment :)

      Delete
  10. Hummm I am wearing a nice wool sweater...I wonder how people think fabric comes to be. Sheep are certainly more environmentally friendly than POLYESTER or any of the other synthetic fabrics and frankly probably better than cotton with all the chemicals they use to raise that crop.
    The disconnect between farm and urban is a frightful thing. I also bet your sheep do not need therapy after shearing, not like so many city dogs with issues!
    Happy shearing and sheep farming to you and yours!

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    Replies
    1. Fiona,
      I agree that there is a disconnect! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment :)

      Delete
  11. First of all sheep do indeed need to be sheared at least once a year, with some breeds needing it twice.
    But, your investment is at the hands of a shearer. and sheep do die at the hands of an experienced shearer.
    I know this first hand, as my shearer (not my reg, shearer his brother) sheared my sheep last year and I lost a healthy productive ewe and almost lost another ewe.
    Shearers do not care about your investment, they are just trying to get the job done as quickly as possible, not because they are fast and can, but they make more money if it takes them less time at the farm. Don't get me wrong sheep shearers are a very valuable part of a sheep breeders pool. But I have found that they make very bad choices as to the sheep's behavior while shearing. An animal that goes limp, is not a good thing at all, yes they do love it when their heavy wool is removed, but some sheep are in dire stress while this process is happening. A good shearer will recognize that and stop.
    I (myself) not my husband or any other person on my little farm take care of my investment, I walk the walk and not just talk the talk.
    So this year I will be shearing my investment myself, on a shearing table halter and standing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Teri, I remember reading about that shearing experience you had, on your blog , it was terrible! I have a young guy who raises sheep that does our shearing. He handles the sheep well. We also supervise the shearing. We had one year with a bad shearer, he was not invited back.Good luck with your shearing. We have done some of our own shearing, it is a lot of work!

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  12. I wear as much wool as possible. :) One of the posts I shared today on the Hop is of a pillow made with natural colored wool. Love it!

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    1. With this cold winter, we have pulled out the wool sweaters, even the ugly ones have been worn around the hou se!
      Look forward to reading your post! Thanks for sharing!!

      Delete
  13. Thanks for the interesting and informative post!

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    1. Your welcome Lisa, thanks for stopping by the farm :)

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  14. I'm loving reading these posts. I get these topics on my mind and get too "caught up", making the whole thing just too complicated. You addressed this so well and so simply. From what understand the natural shedding ability was bred out of sheep MANY years ago.
    Maybe, just maybe, I'll learn how to simplify my attempts by reading some of your posts :)

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  15. I love reading your post, each time I learn something new! My uncle was a sheep farmer and had some of the most beautiful wool!

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  16. Thank you for all this great information! I don't know if it's true, but I have heard that too much wool can actually harm the sheep's skin. Have a great day, Sandra!

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    1. I know it is not pleasant for them if their fleeces are not maintained. Sheep are domesticated and need to be taken care of, shearing is just one way we do that.
      Thanks for stopping by :)

      Delete
  17. Very nice post to read!!! Thank you for the very interesting information!!! Keep sharing:)
    Jessi

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