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Sheep and Wool Today


How to Be a Better Sheep Rancher
The New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Growers Association of Epping, New Hampshire, has developed a website to better inform association members on sheep management and agriculture skills. Their website,, is continuously updated with articles for shepherds and marketing ideas.
The NHSWGA recently held a workshop on the care and feeding of Shetland sheep. New shepherds and shepherdesses often make the mistake of not fully understanding the differences among breeds. If you don"t understand your particular breed, you cannot know what kind of wool you will end up with at shearing time. The type of feed must be planned according to your specific breed.
The Shearing
On the day of shearing, make sure all the sheep are dry and penned, and they should not have any food until after they have been trimmed. Ideally the sheep will be fasting a full 24 hours prior to the clipping. Assuming you hire a shearer, be certain the area is well-lit and that the area is dry and safe for the worker. Electricity is a must to power the clippers, so if you do not have electrical outlets in the barn, make sure you have a powerful generator available for the worker.
The wool will be much better for customers if you have taken the proper time to inspect the flock prior to the shearing. If there is manure, hay, or other debris in the fleece, the final product will not be up to par.
The sheep can be controlled infinitely better by the worker if there is a level working area; if the ground or floor is uneven, the sheep can get superior physical footing and have an advantage. The pen for the sheep should be next to the shearing zone, so that the animal can easily be maneuvered at the time of clipping. 
If you have tried shearing your flock on your own, you know how difficult the task can be. There are professional shearers who don"t mind the challenge, so you may decide to permanently relegate the task to a shearer in your area to ease the hassle.


By Neil Whitehall
Get Ranch Jobs, Contributing Editor

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