shearing tips needed

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Patty0315, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. Patty0315

    Patty0315 Well-Known Member

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    I justed sheared my first sheep and boy does he look funny. Can you give me some tips ???


    Thanks,Patty
     
  2. Patty0315

    Patty0315 Well-Known Member

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    OK guys you are suppose to be helping me. I now have 2 sheep under my belt. #2 looks better but still funny. I did not knick her but I did me ouch ! My new clippers are working well , I had to even shave a dog last night {long story} I am hoping to get 1 or 2 more done today. I am picking up a black lamb this week and will shear his mama so I will have black wool too . Now I have to find a wheel.
     

  3. John Hill

    John Hill Grand Master

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    OK Patty, I have only shorn a few thousand sheep and that was a long time ago however I doubt the principles have changed much since then!

    I have only shorn with overhead machine shears and always used the 'sheep sitting on her butt' method.

    It is important to have a good surface to work on and a tarp on the ground makes the job more difficult than it should be. What I prefer is a wooden floor which of course must be well swept if you want clean fleeces. Old sports shoes are good but you may never want to wear them again.

    Shear the underside first, followed by the rear end, be careful the ewes have a few bits that are easily cut off, cutting the teats is obvious but also the little thingy on her outer vagina (it does have a name but this is a family board!) which if you cut will bleed like crazy and possibly lead to her not urinating cleanly with subsequent horrible death by fly strike.

    When you have got this far what is left on the sheep is pretty much all fleece wool so take a break then and clear the floor of all that dirty and matted wool or have an assistant with a broom.

    When shearing keep the rear of the handpiece well up and just the very tips running along the skin. This will make the closest cut which will look the neatest and give you the longest fibres.

    If you let the points drift up you will have a lumpy bit of wool left. Ideally such things should be avoided but if they do occur they should be left, going back just means you have only made the sheep look a bit neater and wasted wool that would otherwise still be there next year and part of a full length fibre. Shearing the sheep twice is never a really good idea either!

    Try to concentrate on having the right hand comb tine against the skin, this is the tine you cannot see. With an electric handpiece you have to do this with your wrist which can get tiresome, with a rigid shaft drive system you can gain the same effect by allowing the handpiece to rotate slightly in your grip.

    Try to position the sheep so that the piece of skin you are shearing is under a bit of tension, you can do this by sort of leaning the sheep away from you. Easier to show than describe.

    Try to avoid hanging onto the legs, this just give the sheep a notion that a bit of a kick would be a good idea. If you are doing the job really well you will hardly have to hang onto the sheep at all.

    Do not try to move the wool away with your left hand, just let it fall from the handpiece by its own weight. Any pulling on the wool will likely raise the skin and can lead to long strips of leather being attached to your fleece! Sometimes helpers may try to clear the fleece away while you are doing the back and final side but this is a mistake and can cause cuts too.

    Try to work as quickly as you can, the handpiece, i.e. the cutter, will blunten most quickly while it is 'cutting air', I think it will get hotter too.

    The tips of your comb should not be sharp and you should be able to run the comb up your inner arm and not feel any 'scratchiness'. If it is a bit sharp just work the tips on a softwood plank.

    For a slow shearer it is really only the tips of the cutters that are doing the work. The cutters wear faster than the comb so you should change the cutter quite frequently. If I recall correctly one cutter will do about 25 sheep but the 'cutting air' thing means there is a time limit too of something less than an hour. This does not mean that all cutting stops after that time, it just get harder, the wool drags more and an electric handpiece will presumably get hotter.

    Every time you change a cutter it is an advantage if the very tips on the new cutter are running on unused comb. You can achieve this by moving the comb back each time the cutter gets changed, dont move it much, something like 1/64 to 1/32 is probably enough. You can achieve the same effect if you have cutters of varying thickness in which case use the thin ones first and you wont have to reposition the comb.


    Depending on the breed there is really not much point in shearing below the knees, this is mostly worthless hair and they can look sort of 'cute' wearing their socks. The exception is inside the back legs where tidiness leads to cleanliness which is important.

    But when you are finished it does not really matter how neat the sheep looks as in just a few weeks she will look at neat as any others!
     
  4. Patty0315

    Patty0315 Well-Known Member

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    I did 2 today and boy the 2nd one had so much lanolin it wasn't funny. She was harder to cut and looks goofy. I am guessing with time and more sheep I will get better. I have to try letting them sit up with just me. I have a helper who is laying them on there side, does this really make cutting harder ? Poor things are getting there shots, worming and feet trimmed as they get sheared. They must hate me by now . Thanks for the tips and any more are welcome.


    Patty and the funny looking sheep :rolleyes:
     
  5. John Hill

    John Hill Grand Master

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    So the lanolin makes the wool dense? I think it will be easier to cut right next to the skin.

    Doing it with them sitting up is hardest to begin with but once you have the general technique it will be much quicker. I dont think lying them down would ever be very quick.