Shearing help requested

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Sarah J, Aug 13, 2004.

  1. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    My Dh and I sheared two of our lambs last weekend. We've seen it done ONCE when a guy came over to show us how it was done last January...we sheared our ewe right before she lambed. Now the lambs needed it!

    It took us two hours and we got it done. VERY tired! My arms were so sore from holding the shears...theyr'e so heavy! We have the Shearmaster hand-held ones sicne we only have 6 sheep total. And Dh struggled with the lambs - they sat on their butts nicely for a few minutes, but squirmed and struggled if we had to tip them or move them in any way. He had a hard time keeping hold of them. *I* had a hard time with their underside!

    How does one shear a lamb (or adult?) on the belly without knicking them? All that loose skin, in the joint areas, etc. Seems like if I even looked in that direction a knick appeared. The lambs were amazingly calm and didn't seem to notice the knicks and cuts, but struggled whenever we tried to adjust their position.

    We got too tired and ran out of time on Sunday so stopped with the two lambs. We still have to shear their mother, and will have three more lambs (several months younger) to do in November.

    Suggestions? Or is this just a learning curve thing that will get better with practice? We got them sheared, but it isn't even and I felt that I knicked them more than I should have. I felt so bad and cleaned them up. They just look so silly with little areas that aren't as short as others!

    Sarah
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Make sure they are not sitting directly on their tails. Are the shears working well when you get a clean swipe at them? With nicks being a problem I'm wondering if the cutter's throw is coming off the comb on one side. Basically you can adjust the comb so the cutter stays on the comb and isn't moving off one side to slice. You may be pulling the wool or it may be falling away and lifting skin into the cutting area. Try to keep the skin in front of the blade tight and flat. The comb should be running flat to the skin and not seriously raking it or riding up out. You may need the blades sharpened too. The blades should move through the fleece too easily.
     

  3. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Do you set them up more on their legs or farther back? The shears were brand new shears last January and only sheared on ewe then. I cleaned them and put them together again. I did not sharpen them after that, though. Could they have gotten dull that fast? I figured they woudl be good for six or seven animals before needing to be sharpened. They cut great for the back and sides when we could get the lambs to hold still. It was just the underbelly that was so hard to do. How do you keep the skin from getting into the blades when you go on the edges and under the leg joints and such? Seems so hard with such big shears to get into such tiny places...I'm probably pulling the skin. Not sure how to get it to lay flat in those places when the joints curve...any ideas?

    My best guess is that I just need a lot more practice! I just hope my ewes are forgiving as I learn - the lambs won't know the difference since they only GET one shear! :)

    -Sarah
     
  4. Shahbazin

    Shahbazin Well-Known Member

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    Here's a website with instructions: http://www.shearingworld.com/Sic/pattern.htm
    Also, here's a book that will tell you all about it, "Shearing Day" by Kevin Ford, avail. from: http://www.sheepmagazine.com/bookstore.html
    I shear 12-20 sheep (& 1 goat) annually, & have used a variety of methods:
    -lightweight electric clippers (from Premier)
    -black handled utility Fiskars (from the hardware store)-need to get proper
    blade shears someday, but these do in a pinch
    -rooing (plucking fleece from primitive breeds)
    I sheared my 1st two sheep with electric horse clippers - really slow, but I already owned a set, & it was almost impossible to nick them.
    Since I'm typically shearing about 2 weeks from lambing (sheared 2 days before, one year...), I'm not speedy, & my ewes are tiny & uncooperative, I stick them up on a stand to shear them. Using a Lister Stablemate with Wizard blades (comp. to Premier's new 1000c), I take off all the good fleece, give it a shake & bag it, then zip off as much of the belly & wool around the tail as I can get. The clipper needs to kind of "ride" along the shape of the sheep, you can sort of feel the animal with your left hand before you make a blow with the shears, if you're not sure where you're going. You can use your left hand to flatten wrinkles out of the skin too, just keep fingers out of the way of power tools. Then I go in with the utility Fiskars to clean up around the genitals & head. I also use the Fiskars on the belly if I'm hitting the rise & the clippers won't go through it (the utility scissors will cut wire, they can go through anything).
     
  5. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Just rock the ewe or lamb off its tail to one side or the other. New blades aren't always as sharp as they should be, but then I prefer completely unsharpened blades and then I put the edge on myself. If the blades slide through a fleece easily at some point then they are sharp enough. Your biggest problem is nicks? Either the cutter is coming off the comb on one side or you're not keeping the skin pulled smooth. Hopefully Shabazins site has some reasonable pics for technique, you can get sheep to calm down and be positioned for shearing bit by bit. Belly wool can be a chore, and if dirty will dull the blades faster. Alot of technique is simply practice.