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London-Wul is a fibre farm in New Brunswick Canada where animals are neither destroyed nor sold without exception. Also a national award winning shop and studio, London-Wul is home to textile artist Heidi Wulfraat.


Friday, May 28, 2010

SHEEP SHEARING FOR WOMEN UNDER 5'2



My flock of sheep and goats are seniors. I have been with them for a very long time now. They are beyond drag 'em out, wrestle them to the ground - 4 minute professional shearing sessions (at least I feel they are). Over the past few years I have refined our shearing practice so that I am able to do all of the work by myself, quietly, gently and with as little stress as possible.
So for anyone who might be interested here is my unconventional shearing method...

1) you need good barn facilities, a clean, indoor shearing room with an electrical outlet.
A series of relatively small pens that your animals can be funneled into should lead into this room. This makes "catching" a non-issue.
Your animals must be acclimated to these pens so that they are not faced with new conditions come shearing day.
2) I use a steel stanchion like this one.

Mine has a ramp and hydrolic lift so that the sheep can walk on with ease and can then be raised if necessary (it was one of the best anniversary gifts I've ever gotten - to each her own).
If you happen to use a stanchion, like mine, that uses a chain to harness the sheep's head, disregard the chain and attatch a good sheep halter to the head piece. Your sheep will be far more secure (and safe).
Again, I expose my sheep to the stanchion all winter so that they are not totally offended by it on shearing day!

3) Don't bother with the three pound 10" diameter sheep shears. I've been there and won't go back. I use a small (domestic) Whall cutter with size 7, 7F and finishing blades. This equipment is small, lightweight, quiet and most importantly easy to control. I do need to have a good supply of blades sharp and ready to go for shearing. It takes me considerably longer than a professional shearer and the longer your blades run the sooner they're dull. I do manage to get through my small flock with little fuss in two evenings. I listen to a good book on my ipod while I'm working which keeps me slow and methodical. Good shearing = good spinning so I'm working on making it good for both me and my woolly gang!
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