Here is a list of what I request to make life easier for you, me, and most importantly… your sheep!
Most of these things are common sense when it comes to shearing, but I realize that most people who keep sheep have one shearing day per year. I, on the other hand, participate in quite a few shearing days per year so naturally I’ve seen it all…
PLEASE NOTE: I completely understand that some people may not be able to provide some of the things listed below. Fear not! We will make it work. Just make sure you let me know beforehand so we can plan accordingly. (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 off of feed and water for a minimum of 12 hours prior to shearing and do not feed them again 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. Urine down my shoes and feces all over the board isn’t particularly fun, either, so please: DO NOT FEED ANY SOONER THAN 12 HOURS BEFORE SHEARING so that the sheep have adequate time to empty out. If the sheep have not been kept off of feed/water for at least 12 hours by the time I arrive, I will not be able to shear that day and a minimum $50 fee will be charged to the customer.
- If we’re shearing in the morning, or anytime there might be moisture/precipitation, you must keep the sheep in the barn, or completely covered on all sides in a pen, the night before. Rain, sprinkles, fog, and dew lead to wet sheep, and 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 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 an absolute 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 my board (this can also be done while I begin on the next sheep).
- 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 about 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 ground for my stand. This generally means a barn or garage with a concrete or wood floor. (Not dirt, and not manure. If all you have is dirt, at least lay down a tarp in the shearing area that is a minimum of 15 ft. x 15 ft.) My stand holds my motor and back aid about 8-9 feet above the ground, and it will teeter and possibly fall unless on absolutely level ground. If you have no building to shear in, an EZ-UP pop-up shelter on top of a large tarp can work on days where weather is nice.
- I am not a veterinarian, so I cannot administer vaccines for you. 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 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.
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 writing your invoice:
- Very underweight or overweight sheep
- Rams or Wethers
- Horned sheep
- Undocked tails
- Excessive wool growth (depending on the breed, this could be upwards of anywhere between 14-20 months)
- Items listed above not provided on shearing day (without prior communication about your inability to provide them)