Join Ross Priddle as he gives us some sheep shearing demonstrations at the farm in time for the summer.
In the U.K. we shear sheep for several reasons; originally wool was a very commercial product and it was grown as a high value "crop", now with modern textiles taking over sheep are shorn due to welfare reasons. Shearing reduces the chance of sheep getting over hot in the summer as well as helping to prevent other health issues such as maggots. It usually takes me 1:30 to 2 minutes to shear a ewe and 4 or 5 minutes to shear a ram, but it all depends on them sitting quietly and not wriggling!
Once sheared, the fleece is rolled carefully and placed into a wool sack. It is then sent to the British Wool Board, where each fleece is graded and paid for accordingly. Unfortunately nowadays, it's worth as little as 60p per kilogramme. With the average fleece weighing around 2 to 3kg, that’s just £1.80 a fleece. Sheep Shearing usually happens in May, June or July (the 20th and 21st of May at Sacrewell). The sheep have to be dry and the weather needs to be warm to raise the lanolin from the wool which makes the shearing easier. Sometimes sheep also get sheared in the autumn; this helps them grow faster as they eat more