Got clippers; got questions

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by ihedrick, Apr 12, 2006.

  1. ihedrick

    ihedrick Can't stop thinkin'

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    I recently got three Scottish Blackface sheep (M/F and F lamb). The adults are in desperate need of a trim. A frined gave me some clippers he had. I know I need different blades; not sure what type. The clippers are the Sunbeam Stewart model 510 and it has 83AU top blade and 84AU bottom blade. Do I need to get just diferent blades or also the head? The sheep's wool is thick and they aren't very clean; which I hope is fairly normal.
    How often do you shear sheep? Is it too early to shear? Should I wait for the lamb to wean before doing the ewe?
    I've seen sheep sheared before and think once I have the clippers ready I am ready to give it a try. Any advice or suggestions on actual shearing is welcomed! Lastly, is the fun of deciding on what to do with the wool.
     
  2. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Pretty clueless about your blade questions, but can tell you that it's not too early, and certainly getting them done prior to lambing is better for the lamb.

    Of course, depending upon how far along your girls are, you may want to wait for a full body shear and just crutch (take the wool off the back end so you can assist with birth and lamb can find the udder.) Some folks are pretty good and gentle with very pregnant girls, but if you'll be doing it yourself I'd make sure I wasn't dealing with a very full belly :) Myself, I've only ever done the hand shears; I'll be paying someone to do the electric version this year!

    Depending on the breed, you may only need to shear once a year. Some sheep grow just a bit too much wool in a year and need a second shearing. Then you get to decide the best time. Around here, the icelandics give you their best fleece in the fall. The spring fleece isn't quite as long and certainly not as useful to handspinners.

    As for your wool; a friend of mine had Scottish Blackface and found the wool to be quite coarse. So much so that even being used inside a heavy fabric it would come out and prick her skin. Typically, from what I've read, their wool is used for stuffing mattresses due to it's coarseness. If it were me, I'd see what type of felted rugs I could make out of it! :rolleyes:
     

  3. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    I can't tell you what blades to get, either, exactly. However, I asked a similar question not too long ago, and the concensus was that beginners should use a high teeth count to reduce damage to the sheep.

    We've done our first shearing this week. All five sheep survived, but a few have nicks, even with a 20 point blunt comb.

    I've seen videos, and read everything I could get my hands on, and nothing prepared me for this! The younger sheep fought like blue blazes (and if I remember who told me they quit fighting once they're off their feet, I'll clip them!) The older sheep were totally disgusted with us, and let us know in no uncertain terms that they knew how to do it better than we did!

    Our clipper instructions emphasized to wash the sheep first, to reduce wear on the blades. We didn't, for several reasons, the biggest being time. We will next time!

    Good luck!
    Meg
     
  4. 6e

    6e Farm lovin wife Supporter

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    Where on the sheep do you fine most nicks to occur? This will be our very first time shearing sheep and I hope we don't like shave off a bunch of skin! I can't imagine it being a whole lot different then shearing a dog. We have a ram that probably weighs around 300 pounds and isn't that friendly, so shearing him is going to be some fun! Thank goodness we only have 8 sheep!

    Does anyone know of any websites that have good pictures of how to shear?
     
  5. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Sheep nick easily on their bellies and back legs. Don't pull on the wool while shearing (stop shearign and flick it out of the way) and try to keep the skin tight in front of the clippers either by positioning the sheep so it's stretched out to keep the skin tight or by pulling behind the shears with the palm of your hand. Is the blade and comb curved or straight on the 510?
     
  6. ihedrick

    ihedrick Can't stop thinkin'

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    The blades are straight, not curved like others I've seen in catalogues.
     
  7. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Those are cattle clippers /horse clippers etc. You can shear a sheep with them but its going to be slow. You'll want the blades sharpened, and very well lubricated. Good news, you're not very likely to cut thier skin, (if they're set up right) bad news, its going to take a long time to shear a sheep.
     
  8. Terry W

    Terry W Duchess of Cynicism

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    I figured this out when I had show setters that I was grooming every week-- Keep a shallow bowl of HEAVY mineral oil ( same thing clipper blade oil is mad of) within reach of the clippers. You dunk the blades (only!) into the oil, with the clipper running, and turn them sideways as you remove them. this flushes out the tiny fiber particles, and keeps the blades lubricated nicely. Also, seetting the blade so the "comb" is a bit longer than the cutter helps prevent nicks. Animals get nicked a lot in the loin and "armpit" areas-- anywhere the skin folds, bends, or otherwise wrinkles.