Shearing Sheep

Each year about 2 weeks before lambing season the process of shearing the sheep happens in the barn. John use to shear his own sheep but realized that there are people out there that actually do it for a living.

According to Wikipedia

Sheep shearing is the process by which the woolen fleece of a sheep is cut off. The person who removes the sheep’s wool is called a shearer. Typically each adult sheep is shorn once each year (a sheep may be said to have been “shorn” or “sheared”, depending upon dialect). The annual shearing most often occurs in a shearing shed, a facility specially designed to process often hundreds and sometimes more than 3,000 sheep per day.[1]

Sheep are shorn in all seasons, depending on the climate, management requirements, and the availability of a woolclasser and shearers. Ewes are normally shorn prior to lambing in the warmer months, but consideration is typically made as to the welfare of the lambs by not shearing during cold climate winters. However, in high country regions, pre lamb shearing encourages ewes to seek shelter among the hillsides so that newborn lambs aren’t completely exposed to the elements. Shorn sheep tolerate frosts well, but young sheep especially will suffer in cold, wet windy weather (even in cold climate summers). In this event, they are shedded for several nights until the weather clears. Some sheep may also be shorn with stud combs commonly known as cover combs which leave more wool on the animal in colder months, giving greater protection.[2]

Sheep shearing is also considered a sport with competitions held around the world.[3] It is often done between spring and summer.

Why Shear Sheep?

The process of shearing sheep helps them to regulate their body temperature. Domesticated sheep need to be sheared because their wool coats grow so quickly and so thickly that they can cause problems for the sheep if they are not sheared off regularly.

A sheep’s coat can become so thick that it can cause the sheep to hold in too much heat. In the summer months, sheep with thick wool coats will be unable to regulate their temperature and they can easily overheat.

Lambs also benefit from having a mother who is regularly sheared so that they can nurse easily. 

The actual shearing process is not painful for the sheep; it is the equivalent of shaving and grooming a dog. While the majority of domesticated sheep do need to be sheared, there are a few breeds of domesticated sheep that do not need to be sheared. Wild breeds also do not need to be sheared. Wild sheep and some domesticated breeds have coats that do not grow continuously. Instead, these sheep have coats of hair or wool that shed during certain seasons

How much Wool does a sheep have??

Have you ever wondered just how much wool a sheep has? Well according to Sheep 101 it varies! Approximately 90 percent of the world’s sheep produce wool. One sheep produces anywhere from 2 to 30 pounds of wool annually. The wool from one sheep is called a fleece; from many sheep, a clip. The amount of wool that a sheep produces depends upon its breed, genetics, nutrition, and shearing interval. Lambs produce less wool than mature animals. Due to their larger size, rams usually produce more wool than ewes of the same breed or type.

Check out this great website that shows just what you can expect depending on breed!

Sheep 101: Wool production

How much is the wool worth?

With the price of wool clothing etc., you would think that wool would be one of the main ways for someone to make money when raising sheep. This is not the case for most people. Of course, you can find some that get paid top dollar for their wool. But it must be washed and clean to be able to sell to hand spinners & get the highest prices. Most wool that has been sheared will be combined with other farmers and sold at a “wool Pool”. This is the best way to get the best price for a large amount of wool. But even if your wool is sold this way you may receive very little for it. Some farmers who don’t want the hassle of the wool pool will actually keep their wool and use it for mulch in their garden!

So as you can see shearing is necessary for the animal but not really a moneymaker for the farmer. Just another job that needs to be done to benefit the animal.

If anyone wants to take a look at our website it explains the breed we have here in Virginia.


And for anyone wondering lambing season started last week with the count up to 12 as of today! We have one that is being bottle-fed; which the grandkids are very excited about! John, maybe not so much! I’ll update as the weeks go by!

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