Sheep’s wool is a fibre that grows constantly. As a result, it protects sheep against harsh winter conditions, but becomes irritating and cumbersome for the animal when good weather arrives. Without proper care, the wool can become thick and dirty and accumulate detritus from straw, hay, grain and pests. Therefore, it is essential to shear sheep once per year.
SHEARING TO ENSURE THE WELFARE OF THE ANIMAL. Animals are cleaner and lighter after shearing. It helps animals to be more dynamic. It stimulates the appetite of lambs and ewes, who then produce more milk. It also improves the vigour of rams. Lambs can suckle better and more easily since their mothers’ udders are easier to find.
TO ENSURE BETTER HYGIENE Shearing can be considered as a sanitary act that prevents the appearance of external parasites (ticks, myiasis, scabies, keds). Shearing the hindquarters of sheep relieves the animal of crusted dirt!
TO IMPROVE FARMING. Sheared sheep are easier to diagnose when being checked by a veterinarian. They are also easier to handle by the farmer or veterinarians (sorting, blood tests, vaccinations, hoof trimming, leaving the pen, etc.).
Three minutes – this is how long it takes a skilled professional to shear a sheep. The cut fleece is a single piece.
Two to five – this is the number of kilos of wool produced by a sheep per year on average, depending on the breed.
SHEARING IS NOT PAINFUL. Contrary to popular opinion, the process does not hurt the animal. The method used by skilled professionals allows the animal to relax. The sheep is not encumbered and, as a result, is free to move. Indeed, the shearer does not use force to restrain the animal, so it stays calm. Sheep should be shorn on an empty stomach, in order to prevent the rumen from compressing the lungs and making the sheep’s position uncomfortable. Only lambs tend to move a little more than their parents when being sheared. To remedy this, experienced shearers shear in a more fluid and uninterrupted manner that cradles and soothes the lambs.
A GOOD SHEARER DOES NOT CUT THE SKIN. The risk of cuts is not completely out of the question, even for professional shearers. Some small growths on the skin can cause small, harmless abrasions, which any shearer knows how to disinfect and care for.
A GOOD SHEARER SHOULD WORK QUICKLY. The fastest shearers are often the ones that shear most effectively, without cutting the animal or damaging the wool. Three minutes – this is the time it takes for a skilled professional to completely shear a sheep, with a fleece that remains in one piece.
Shearing is essential for the health and well-being of sheep, and though it can be a dirty and exhausting task, it is also extremely satisfying. However, do not proceed if you don't know where to start: you risk stressing or hurting your sheep and damaging the wool.
How to shear a sheep →