Plan Now for Shearing Season

Plan well ahead of spring for shearing season, as it will make shearing more relaxed for both you and the animals.

The first step in preparing for shearing season is to produce top quality fiber. Any kind of stress can cause brittle, yellow wool and result in a less than perfect fleece. Good nutrition is a must for top quality fiber. Be sure you have ample minerals, preferably one that also contains electrolytes for stress. Hay should be clean and bright green with no signs of mold or mildew. Grass hay is generally preferred over alfalfa or other legume hay as llamas and alpacas do not do as well on high protein diets. If you live in an area where the weather is severe during the winter months be sure to have adequate shelter and plenty of good clean water available at all times.

It is also helpful if the animals have good clean fields with a minimum of twigs, mud, and weeds. If your fields are wet in the winter, rotate animals frequently between fields in order to avoid creation of mud holes where they roll. Blowing and grooming animals during the winter to remove debris and dead wool will also make a nicer fleece in the spring.

Winter is also a good time to get out the shears and send all of the combs and cutters off to be sharpened. You can check with your local feed store or county extension office for places that sharpen sheep shears or send them to us and we will have our professionals sharpen them. Once sharpened, coat your combs and cutters lightly with a light weight shearing oil and store them in the felt pockets made for combs and cutters. This will keep them protected and sharp until shearing season. Also be sure your shears are oiled and greased before storing for the season and keep them where they will not collect moisture over the winter.

Now is also the time to remodel the shearing shed and get things set up to make movement of animals in and out most efficient. Plan where you will record weights, colors and quantities of wool. Update any records that got missed last spring and have your storage bags ready to receive next year’s fleeces.

If you plan to add a chute, shearing table, or cleaning table now is the time to order these items.