Shearing questions

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by BetsyK in Mich, Mar 18, 2004.

  1. BetsyK in Mich

    BetsyK in Mich Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I had my flock sheared yesterday, have 28 head and couldn't find anyone (as in stronger than me) to work as a catcher, neighborhood boys were all in school and husband is not a sheep person, anyway his business partner decided to go to Florida so he had to work. The fellow I have had help in the past has taken a full time job and was unavailable and not just anybody wants to wrestle sheep for a day!! There has got to be a better way.

    I set up a shute system where the sheep were held one at a time but they came barreling out the end of the shute and the shearer said he would have rather have caught the sheep in an open pen so that plan was a failure!! I'm thinking about revamping the shute to have a side door that Paul could pull the sheep out of and flip. Does anybody out there have any ideas. I sure can't have the shearer catching another year or he'll be "busy" when I call. I've seen the side shutes specially made for the shearer but can't afford to buy anything like that new.

    Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. brosil

    brosil Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Not a bad idea. I've got a primitive sheep "puzzle" that I catch a group in and drag them out but I've been thinking of some kind of chute to make it easier. I shear off a stand, sort of a modified Mexican style using blades.
     

  3. prhamell

    prhamell Well-Known Member

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    My shearer is a tough little 18 year old girl. She usually brings her brother with to help. I don't have a large herd. Only ten to be sheared this year. I wish I had something fancy set up. I get them in an enclosed area the night before and then while they're shearing one, I catch two more and have them ready to go with the rope leads on them. Not a pretty sight considering I'm almost eight months pregnant! I use quite a bit of cracked corn to entice my girls into cooperating. Becky
     
  4. We used to do it the hard way like the systems you are describing above. Finally our 4th year of shearing and over 150 head we finally got smart. Here is the set up we used this year and it was really low labor, it only took me and the shearer two days to do all the sheep & I didn't catch a single animal. The shearer shears in an enclosed area about 10' x 10' or maybe 8' x 8' or so, adjoining this area is the sheep holding area mine was 16' x 32' to hold 75 ewes at once. The shearer shears them in small groups of lets say 10 sheep at once. I would let about 10 sheep into his shearing area then close the gate so they could'nt get back in with the rest of the sheep. Then the shearer would catch and shear each of the 10 sheep until they were all done and then we would let them out another gate which led back to their favorite paddock. Now catching for the shearer won't get much easier than this because he/she only needs to take a few steps to grab a sheep and set it on it's butt for shearing. It worked very well. This was the system this seasoned shearer asked me to set up.
    Cal
     
  5. kabri

    kabri Almst livin the good life

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    We use our dogs to help. With all the sheep in a small area, we also bring in the aussie who's very presence make the area smaller so it's extremely easy to catch the next ewe. We position the dog opposite the door we take the sheep out to shear, that pushes them close to the door so we don't have to drag/carry them very far. The dog stays in the stall the entire time we are shearing. Gives the sheep something to look at and think about, the dogs are extremely happy to get to lie in the stall all day and look at the sheep!

    Shearing with 9 other sheep milling around sounds like the fleeces would get stepped on and messed up! That method would not work with our flock!
     
  6. John Hill

    John Hill Grand Master

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    I found a shot of a typical shearing set up up that I am used to.

    The black hole behind the shearer is the exit. To the extreme left of the picture you can see a door that is hinged to open outwards and held shut with a strong spring or maybe a weight an pulley system.

    Behind this door will be a pen big enough to hold about 10 or 20 sheep. One person keeps this pen full. All the shearer has to do is to open that little door and pull out the sheep that is pressed against it.

    For numbers like 150 or more I think this set up would be well worth building. If you have skilled shearers you could expect shearing times about half what is being quoted.


    I am sure a dog in the catching pen is a good idea especially as the sheep will naturally face the dog and so be presenting their butt towards the door, which is just the way the shearer needs them.
     
  7. kabri

    kabri Almst livin the good life

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    Yep John, that's exactly what happens! Dogs really earn their food on shearing day!
     
  8. Hay Kabri, my job was picking up the wool after each sheep was sheared, the fleeces were beautiful and clean and indeed I needed them to be as they are processed into various products for resale. The shearer shears off to one side of the pen and the sheep, as you can imagine, are always off to the other. I would be concerned about the dog causing even more stress and confusion to the ewes. We try to be as calm as possible around the ewes at shearing as lambing is only a few weeks away.
    Cal
     
  9. kabri

    kabri Almst livin the good life

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    Hi Cal, I'm glad that works for you, I think each flock is different and you have to find what works best with your animals. We have cheviots, and they can be pretty wild. However, we have a few older ewes who are extremely tame, and they will come up and sniff me and try to get into my pockets when I'm working on another sheep (like trimming feet or vaccines, etc) The ones who are tame would be trying to check out what we were doing to the sheep being sheared, for us your method would be a mess! We also keep the wool and it is used for spinning so keeping the fleece intact is pretty important. I love reading about the creative ways everyone has figured out how to handle their flocks!