Nobody shears sheep in the High Desert where we live. Well at least nobody I could find. And the summer’s are excruciating so when I first got sheep, they HAD to be sheared. I decided, like so many other things, that I could just do it myself. Well, let me tell you, shearing sheep is NOT easy, but it can be done.
What you need to shear a sheep
It takes a lot of muscle to hold the sheep and maneuver it around so the very first thing you need is muscle. If you only have a few sheep then even a sissy like myself can get it done. When you have a lot of sheep though, you need to find yourself a nice strong young man to do it for you, unless that is who you are.
Yes, I know that’s totally sexist, but you go shear a sheep and then get back to me on that. I just sheared a wooly one yesterday and my legs were wobbly and I’m still sore today. I was teaching somebody else how to do it and after she sheared her sheep, her knees were knocking too!
You need to invest in a good pair of clippers which will run you about $400. We use an Andis 68000 Heavy Duty Sheep Shearer which works fantastic.
Don’t even waste your time with a dog or even a horse clipper. It will take you half the day and you will be sooooooo frustrated.
When you shear a sheep, you are going to cut it. End of story, no alternative, full stop, period. Those shearers are going to rip open your sheep’s skin and it’s going to look nasty. You are going to feel terrible and run for ointments. However, if you notice your sheep probably didn’t even flinch. I don’t know if they are insensitive to pain or if they’re just too dumb sheepish to notice it. You know, no sense no feeling. But it doesn’t seem to bother them, they’ve never gotten infected and they are much happier with a few cuts than dying of heat stroke. So just suck it up and do it!
How to shear your sheep
You can just go out it however you want, but it will take way longer, the results will be horrible and your sheep will be cut up from one end to the other. New Zealanders have perfected a pattern of shearing that is the most efficient and the safest possible way to shear. Each position the sheep is in not only prevents you from having to make second (and third and fourth and fifth) cuts, but also bends the sheep’s body so that it decreases wrinkles-therefore making it less likely to be cut.
There are 8 steps to the pattern: The belly, the crutch and first back leg, first back leg and undermine, top knot and neck, neck and first shoulder, longblow, last shoulder and last side. When you follow this pattern, the entire fleece comes off in one piece.
I highly suggest watching this Youtube video as it shows you the pattern on an already shorn sheep with wax crayons. It helped me understand this process better than anything else.
This video shows a sheep with wool getting sheared
Also, this page has a step-by-step guide for shearing that would be good to print out and tape up in your shearing area for easy reference.