Here is a list of what I request on shearing day in order to make life easier for you, me, and most importantly: your sheep!
I completely understand that some people may not be able to provide some of the things listed below. If this is the case, just make sure you let me know beforehand so we can plan accordingly. We will make it work. That being said: numbers (1), (2), and (3) are absolutely necessary. I cannot shear if any of these three are not met.
- Have your sheep completely off of feed and water for a minimum of 12 hours prior to shearing and do not give them any access to food or water until after they have been shorn. When shearing New Zealand style, having a full stomach is not only very uncomfortable for the sheep, but can also cause them to suffocate, so please: COMPLETELY WITHHOLD FEED AND WATER FOR A MINIMUM OF 12 HOURS PRIOR TO SHEARING so that the sheep have adequate time to empty out. Withholding feed and water prior to shearing is a standard health/welfare practice among sheep producers across the world. It would be cruel not to do it. *
- You must keep the sheep in a barn, stable, or completely covered on all sides in a pen, the night before shearing. Rain, sprinkles, fog, and dew lead to wet sheep, and due to the hazard of handling them, wet sheep will not be shorn. The sheep need to be bone dry for shearing. *
- Electricity. Have it in the form of a live outlet, extension cord, or generator next to where the shearing will take place. My overhead shearing motor only draws about 7 amps, so a standard, grounded, household 110v outlet is perfectly adequate.
- My prices assume someone (you, a husband, a wife, a cousin, a neighbor) is bringing the next sheep to my board while I am shearing, so that time spent waiting between sheep is kept to a minimum. It will also be to your benefit to have someone there who can help clear away the wool as it piles up next to the shearing area (this can also be done while I begin on the next sheep). If no help can be provided, a minimum of $50 will be charged to the customer.
- Have the sheep in a small pen that will be close to where I’ll be shearing. The size of the pen can make your life (or the life of whoever is catching sheep) much easier. The smaller the better. You’ve got it right when the sheep are squeezed in shoulder to shoulder and don’t have much room to move around.
- Some sort of sheltered area that has clean, COMPLETELY LEVEL floor. This generally means a barn or garage with a concrete or wood floor. (Not dirt, and not manure. If all you have is dirt, laying down a tarp in the shearing area can work.) If you have more than just a handful of sheep, I will also need a wooden surface upon which to mount my overhead motor.
- I will not administer vaccines or wormer. If you plan on vaccinating or drenching on shearing day, please have extra help available and let me know ahead of time so we can plan the workflow accordingly. You will need another set of hands on deck to hold the animal once it has been shorn should you choose to take care of any vaccinations or health-related procedures that day.
- Payment in cash only please!
I’ve done full days of work and been burned when it comes time for payment (I’ve also had to chase down people whose checks have bounced), so this policy is now non-negotiable.
*A minimum $50 fee will be charged if I arrive and the sheep have not been kept off of feed for at least 12 hours and/or are not bone dry.
One final note: Price estimates given before showing up for a job can only factor in the details you give me up front. The following things will incur higher fees upon completion of shearing:
- Very underweight or overweight sheep
- Rams or Wethers
- Horned sheep
- Sheep with un-docked tails
- Excessive wool growth (depending on the breed, this could be upwards of anywhere between 14-20 months)
- Failure to provide any items listed above on shearing day (without prior communication about your inability to provide them)