Sheep Shearing?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by HomeOnTheFarm, Mar 9, 2004.

  1. HomeOnTheFarm

    HomeOnTheFarm Well-Known Member

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    I'm pretty new to all of this. The short story is that we bought a flock of sheep & goats & a llama (package deal). The weather today was wonderfully warm (at 62F) the sheep, however (2 ewes, 1 ram) were panting pretty hard during the warmest part of the day.

    I have no idea when to shear them, or how to. Is it possible to advertise "Free Wool: You Shear" and have someone competent show up for it? I really have no use for the wool this year (too much to do), so would that be good enough payment for shearing, or is there usually a charge for it? If there is a charge, how much?

    Sorry for so many questions, I'm really hoping someone can enlighten me.
     
  2. John Hill

    John Hill Grand Master

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    Shearing just three sheep sounds like a lot of messing around for not much gain. May I suggest that if there are other sheep owners in the area that you ask around, maybe someone will shear yours in with their's for some consideration or other?

    Shearing them yourself is certainly possible but would be very hard work without appropriate equipment and getting the equipment seems hardly worth it for the small number.

    Once upon a time shearing someone's sheep and getting to keep the fleece would have been a very good deal indeed but I am sure times have changed!
     

  3. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    You can also ask the local 4-H or FFA, they should know who shears in your area.

    Like JH Said, it is hard work, and takes a bit of learning on how to do it.
     
  4. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Sorry to disagree a bit, but I wouldn't take my sheep to another farm or allow three onto mine to be sheared. The odds of spreading disease is too great. Different strains of foot rot are everywhere. I certainly don't want to import things like OPP or CL either and shearing is a prime time to spread both! Besides to shear three sheep at you place would cost $50 unless he/she really has to travel some!
    To answer your question there is no "wrong" time to shear except perhaps the coldest of winter and perhaps you don't get that in Washington. 62f is not hot, they shouldn't have been panting. I'm going to guess the humidity was pretty high? You may have a low grade respritory infection. How long have you had them? Do they have adequate salt and mineral? I used to think block salt was good enough and I do use it in the field so they can grab a lick while on grass (Have to protect it from TB infected deer better) Free choice salt would be better all round and a no copper sheep mineral. The 4 h idea is great to find a shearer, do expect to pay though. I'd try to borrow some cattle clippers and then tackle the job myself. It's a slow job with cattle clippers but reduces the risk of cutting the sheep. Pay to get the blades sharpened after you're done. (Perhaps before too) If you can find a set of cattle clippers going cheap they're not a bad thing to have for all your animals sake. A sheep shearing head is another story, they are pretty much single purpose and alot harder to learn to use. If the sheep are a good wool breed and have a good fleece you might (but not likely) be able to find someone to shear for the wool. If I had time I'd shear for clean Linclon fleeces or Romney etc. If anyone in the Ottawa area needs something like that done I might even find time!
     
  5. HomeOnTheFarm

    HomeOnTheFarm Well-Known Member

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    Thank you all for your input! I didn't consider the disease factor. My goodness, there sure is a lot to this!

    Background on the herd: my husband and I wanted a couple of milk goats, and a guy from our church was selling off his herd/flock of 2 ewes, 1 buck, 5 does, 1 billy, and 1 llama for a really reasonable price (didn't think we would find a deal like that anywhere else). [We bought them the second week of January] Yup, there's a reason why they were so cheap. They'd been neglected--no selenium block, the does' hooves were so far overgrown that they looked like they were wearing dutch clogs (the ends were horrendously turned up), things we didn't know when we bought them (last time I do a sight-unseen sort of thing). Oh yeah, they're all 1/2 wild too. Ever tried to milk a 1/2 wild goat??? It's not fun.

    We bought selenium blocks for them (this area is seriously lacking in selenium, everyone with livestock has to use them), put them on better feed (a fourth-cutting hay, which I read they were better able to digest--did I get my leg pulled on this too?), and fresh water. They're able to get more exercise as well, with a 4 acre pasture to walk around in. We had run poultry in one small section of it at one time, but I cleaned all the droppings and bedding out of there thoroughly before the herd showed up because I was told that chicken droppings carry a disease which lambs and yearling goats are succeptible to (true? false?).

    So I'm really learning about all of this. Oh yeah, the females (minus one doe) all produced yearling goats/lambs. Each ewe produced triplets: we've had to bottle feed one since it's mother ignored it and one of the other triplets upon birth (the last one was stillborn)-choosing to concentrate only on one of the lambs. The other has taken good care of all three of her lambs, which are all thriving (an incredibly lively crew--they're very fun to watch!). Okay, I think that's all the relevant information you'd need to know concerning their health. Any other specific questions? I don't know what all you'd need to know about their health so if there's anything else that might be important, I really can't think of it off the top of my head. Oh--I did have to treat one of the yearling goats for selenium deficiency (I also dosed it up with vitamins), but the sheep (including the lambs) haven't shown any symptoms of the like.

    Back on topic: what do I need to do about treating a respiratory illness (as was suggested). These sheep have incredibly thick wool (I think so at least--dense, about 4 inches deep). Also, when I go out in the morning to feed them, the sheep are usually pretty far out in the pasture but will come running pretty fast for the feed--they don't cough upon reaching the feeder or any time after that. Wouldn't there be coughing with a respiratory illness?

    I am planning on keeping the female lambs, the ewe, and the buck (butchering the two male lambs late fall) [also keeping 2 does, the one female yearling and the billy (for now)]. It's just too much to take care of the whole mess of them. I really want to make this work with the rest of them though, as I'm really enjoying the sheep.
     
  6. RandB

    RandB Well-Known Member

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    Our first year we had 5 sheep, and we sheared them with hand shears. It is slow going, but it can be done. I don't know about your area, but on the east coast it is very hard to find a shearer, especially to do just a few animals. The ones around here expect to do large flocks, and charge about 5 bucks a head plus take the wool. They usually have a minimum charge of about $50. I even heard of some people paying $25 a head to have some sheep sheared, wormed, shots & hoof-trimmed. We have grown to about 20 sheep over 5 years. I went to a 4-H shearing clinic and learned the basics of how to shear. We started out buying a used set of shears, but they broke down and we ended up buying a new one the next year. We also invested in (used) a crank-up sheep stand, and one of those cradles that you can put a sheep in it and flip them on their backs. Since we are older folks, we take about a week and try to do 3 sheep a day. We put them on the stand to shear them - it really saves your back! Then into the cradle for a foot trimming, yearly shots, and yearly wormer dose.
    We decided to do it ourselves to save money, and also our sheep behave better with us than they would with a stranger, and even if a shearer came, we would still have the work of the shots & trimming & worming, so what the heck..each year my shearing ability gets a little better ! ;)
     
  7. John Hill

    John Hill Grand Master

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    Yes, take heed of Ross's advice regarding disease, my mistake as this would not be a serious concern in my area.

    I looked up how hot 62F is and agree this is not hot for sheep but it does sound like they have very heavy fleeces.

    If they run for their food this could mean they are hungry or it could mean they are fat gluttons? :)

    Fifty dollars to shear three sheep? Heck, I would do them for hot scones and a cup of tea. Of course if I had to use cattle clippers I would be expecting cream and raspberry jam.
     
  8. Jan in CO

    Jan in CO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Home, Start by calling your county or state extention office, asking them for the name of some 4H leaders in your area. Those folks will know who raises sheep, if they don't themselves, and the sheep raisers can either help you out with the shearing, or steer you to someone who does it. Believe me, it isn't easy! Hubby and I are in our mid 50's and I'm lucky if I can get one done per day. Of course, it's because I don't have a stand, and the clippers never seem to work right, etc!

    Another thing I'd mention, if you have the sheep and goats together, is the two species have different copper requirements. Goats need quite a bit more than sheep, so you can't just put out a general all purpose mineral and have it do the trick. You'll either kill the sheep or the goats won't get what they need. Also, a soft mineral block for the sheep works, but one of those hard mineral blocks like you use for horses isn't suitable they need loose minerals,(as do the goats) as they don't have the choppers horses have. Best to get a couple good books from the library, and read, read, read!

    You said they had "yearling" kids and lambs, so they had them before you brought them home? Must have been fun! There are lots of knowledgeable folks on this forum, and some others, so if you need help, just ask, and you'll get more advice than you thought possible!

    Jan in Co
     
  9. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    If the sheep are running then I would think they are healthy! There isn't always a cough with a pasteurella pnuemonia or shipping fever but they are depressed if not obviously ill. I'll second the mineral advice, absolutely but I've been using a soft mineral lick since January and like it best of all because they'll eat it! Check that selenium block hasn't got copper in it!
    Premium hay is easier to digest, too easy sometimes and can cause a calcium deficency in pregnant or lactating ewes. It just cranks up the risk factor a bit. If they are first time lambers or older ewes, the risk is already elevated a bit. You might want to learn to condition score the sheep, and feed based on their condition. There's a link in the Sheep basics post (which is a mess still sorry!) to a site that has a condition scoring description. I'll dig it out.
     
  10. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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  11. Jan in CO

    Jan in CO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I use a soft mineral block for my sheep, too, kind of a rough one, as opposed to the hard, slick one horses prefer. It is labeled as a "Goat/Sheep protein block", but has the minerals in it. The sheep love it. Also have a tub of loose salt out for them. Jan in Co
     
  12. HomeOnTheFarm

    HomeOnTheFarm Well-Known Member

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    Thanks everyone!!!

    Okay, on my next going-to-town trip, I'll be picking up a new mineral block and loose salts too (ours is hard like a horse block, but they've still been chomping on it pretty good...since they're willing to work so hard for it, maybe they have a deficiency? Oh well, that problem will soon be overcome anyway.).

    I looked around and it turns out there's a WSU college extension up here (they have one of the best veterinary schools in the state) abd I will probably be able to find someone who can connect me with a shearer. Thanks for the ideas as to where to dig up some help!!! Hopefully (provided the rumors are true), this will work out with the extension.

    The question about "yearlings"?? Well, I was told that if I referred to baby goats as kids, I would sound like a "hick," and that the proper term was "yearling" for anything under a year. Didn't make sense to me, but I didn't want to sound like a hick either. So actually, they all kidded/lambed within the last three weeks. Five living lambs (1 dead), Six living kids (3 dead). I just keep thinking that this is like learning to swim by jumping into the deep end.

    As for differing copper requirements...how do I give seperate quantities to the different groups since they run together?

    I'll do a condition check on the ewes tomorrow. As for the hungry/chubby thing...I put just shy of a 60lb bale in for all 10 grown animals because if I put a full bale in there, they convert the leftover to bedding or poop all over it (we need to put another board up around the feeder so they can't jump in it, but we haven't gotten that far yet). Is this too much? I just figured they'd eat until they were full.

    Well, thanks so much for your help! This doesn't seem as terrifying as it was just a day ago. Thank you!!!!
     
  13. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    60 lbs would be enough for 10 sheep I'm not sure how much the non-sheep need though. It can look a little daunting at first, it will get easier. We had cattle before the sheep and they can teach you quickly. If I'd done that the other way round I'd have been a better cattleman! That saying "an once of prevention being worth a pound of cuer" probably came from a sheep farm. If you call a kid a kid you're a hick? Hmmm guess I'm a hick, by some peoples standards if that's all it takes. Never really thought about it much, don't really plan to either.