Sheep Shearing

This year we requested that the shearer came to Gresham to shear the Hampshire Downs. In previous years the sheep have been transported to Wyndham and the shearer’s farm. As the trailer is only a single deck it is too small to take the entire flock, and therefore 3 round trips were required. With the shearer travelling to Gresham, the shearing cost doubled, but the extra cost was well worth the saving in time and fuel.

The shearer is self-taught but he is both quick and accurate, with minimal nicks and cuts. He brought everything with him; sheep race to hold the sheep, board on which to shear the sheep and battery power for the clippers. The shearer also wore sheep skin moccasins so that he didn’t slip on the shearing board once it became covered in lanolin. The weather was good on Saturday, although it could have been warmer. With warmer weather the lanolin in the sheep’s fleece becomes more viscous, thereby lubricating the clippers. This allows them to glide through the fleece. On cooler days the lanolin remains in a more solid state making shearing more of an effort as the clippers have to be forced through the fleece.

The shearer took about 5 minutes to shear each sheep. The first ewe was not good. It had been attacked by blowfly, probably in the week prior, when temperatures had risen. Fortunately, although the blowfly laid eggs and the maggots emerged they had insufficient time to latch on and begin the gruesome act of eating the sheep’s flesh. Caught in the nick of time the shearer was able to shear the affected fleece off and with it the maggots. Initially, after shearing, the sheep do not need protecting with pour on, but in 3 to 4 weeks once the fleece starts to grow back, the pour on will be applied to protect the sheep against blowfly and other parasites.

In total the sheep produced about 30kg of fleece, for which the Wool Marketing Board will pay about £30, somewhat less than the cost of the shear. Below are pictures of the shearer in action and the shorn ewes.

 

Sheep shearer

 

Shorn sheep