Skip to Content

The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

Postcard from the Past: Sheep Sheering Don’ts

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Complied by Dick Perue

A few don’ts for the guidance of sheep farmers in the shearing shed: By J. T. Ritch

Thus were the headlines in the April 16, 1916 issue of the Carbon County Journal.

The accompanying article reads:

1. Don’t start until organization is complete.

2. Don’t raise the dust when driving sheep into the shed.

3. Don’t allow sheep to stand in damp or dirty pens.

4. Don’t have a dark shed so you cannot see what you are doing.

5. Don’t undertake to do more than you can manage well.

6. Don’t work yourself, but supervise.

7. Don’t have a cramped place for shearers or shearers shearing all around you.

8. Don’t allow shearers to “race” in their work.

9. Don’t allow fleeces to be broken.

10. Don’t allow the fibers of the wool to be cut in half.

11. Don’t allow sheep or shearers to stand on the fleece.

12. Don’t allow the sheep to be ill-treated.

13. Don’t allow shearers to pick up wool.

14. Don’t have a dirty floor and wool lying about.

15. Don’t come out of the shed, leave laborers to do the work and expect good results.

16. Don’t pass over the slightest mistake.

17. Don’t allow shorn sheep to get mixed, but see they go into individual shearer’s tally pens.

18. Don’t neglect the most trivial detail.

19. Don’t allow wool to be baled before inspection.

20. Don’t work without a system.

From the internet comes this information: 

To shear sheep today, many sheep farmers use electric shears. But before electric shears were invented, they used hand shears. 

Hand shearing is common in areas where electricity is limited. A hand-sheared sheep will produce more wool than an electric-sheared sheep. 

Hand shearing is not an easy task. It takes practice to ensure the task is completely safe and minimally stressful to the sheep.

How to hand shear a sheep Preparing the wool 

Step 1 – Wash sheep thoroughly, removing any debris that may get in the way. Pick out the larger chunks. 

Step 2 – Hold the sheep’s mouth closed with your hand under the jaw and around the nose. Stand over the sheep and position it so its bum is on the ground and back is against your legs. The sheep will naturally slump into a concave position, belly up. 

Step 3 – Trim any discolored hairs on the sheep’s belly by the scrotum or udders. Pull taught as you shear. The belly area is sensitive. Shearing the belly first will make the rest of the process easier. It will take up to three clips of the shears to clear the belly. 

Step 4 – Hold one hind leg and, with one or two clips, trim the inside of the back legs. Roll the sheep slightly to shear the outside of the legs and tail. Three clips on each leg and three on the tail will shear it. 

Step 5 – Shear the topknot wool on the back of the sheep’s neck in one or two cuts.

Open the fleece 

Step 1 – Open the fleece at the neck with one or two cuts to clear around the ears and behind the head. Shear the shoulder, the leg and as high as the shoulder blade goes. 

Step 2 – Lay the sheep down and shear over the shoulders in long cuts up the hips toward the neck. Start at the hip and go up the neck. 

Step 3 – Keep working up the backbone.

Clear the sheep

Step 1 – Clear up the top of the face and work down the neck, rolling the sheep as you go. Shear down the neck, off the shoulder and off the leg. 

Step 2 – Bring the head up and continue down the body and out the leg. 

Step 3 – Clear off whatever is left over the bum and you’re done.

  • Posted in Columnists
  • Comments Off on Postcard from the Past: Sheep Sheering Don’ts
Back to top