What is the best way to prepare for shearing?
Sheep should be confined the night before and taken off feed, pasture and hay for at least 12 hours (water is fine). They need to have empty bellies for shearing so that they do not have trouble breathing.
Goats, alpacas, and llamas should be in a small area where it is easy to halter and lead them to the shearing area. Most shearers will not run out into the field to catch your animals. That includes me! I come to your farm to shear only. There will be a surcharge if I am asked to round up animals from the field.
When should I contact you about spring shearing?
As soon as possible! I start scheduling farms in winter. Please know that weekends in April and May book up almost immediately. I greatly appreciate clients who can be flexible about days, since I am on the road almost constantly starting in late March. Please don’t wait until it gets hot to contact me – even if it’s cold in March, you KNOW it will be hot in May. Schedule now to avoid the stress of having to wait!
What is your payment policy?
Payment for shearing is expected at time of service. Exceptions are made for government agencies who require POs or invoices. I accept cash and checks. I can take credit cards but prefer not to if at all possible.
Can you shear year-round?
The short answer is yes, but note that I shear primarily for the health of the animal. Typically, there are two seasons during which it is appropriate to shear: spring (all animals) and fall (goats and longwool sheep). In tropical climates, often alpacas or llamas may be shorn a secon time, or at least have their bellies shorn to help keep them cool.
Frequently sheep owners expecting to lamb in winter will have their ewes shorn or crutched at least 3 weeks prior to lambing. This aids in the following:
(1) the shepherd can easily see if there is a difficulty with the birthing process
(2) the lamb can find the teat and not mistake a piece of hanging wool for a teat
(3) the ewe will feel the cold and go into the barn, thus leading her lamb in there too. Lambs can die of the cold because the ewes are wooled and do not seek shelter.
(4) For those who value the wool, getting the wool off before the stress of lambing will ensure no wool break occurs.
(5) From the shearer’s perspective: it is highly preferable to shear a pregnant ewe, and highly undesirable to shear a nursing ewe.
What is the deal with shots and shearing at the same time?
Some farmers find it convenient to give shots and oral deworming medication at the same time that their animals are shorn. I think this is a Very Bad Idea.
If the animals are in good shape, not anaemic, not carrying a great parasite load, this may not be a problem. However, I have seen occasionally very adverse reactions in animals who do have a high parasite count – sometimes leading to death. It is very distressing to me when animals die, especially when it is avoidable.
Shearing is stressful for animals, no matter how you slice it. My philosophy: don’t make it worse by introducing chemicals into their systems. Do that another day.
Are you willing to travel beyond your current areas of service?
Yes, absolutely! However, I already have commitments to hundreds of farms in my travel area (southeastern states in March and early September and mid-atlantic states in April, May, and June). I am very open to traveling to other areas in other months.
Can you help with herd health?
Yes, I am glad to help you with your herd health management. I am experienced at administering oral medications as well as giving shots and can show you how if you need instruction; however, please note that I am not a veterinarian or vet tech, and so cannot do or charge for services ordinarily provided by these professionals. Herd health is typically done on days other than shearing. Shearing day should be for shearing only.
Will you train me?
As a matter of course, I will show owners new to their animals how to trim hooves and administer shots.
Some owners want to learn to shear; this takes considerably more time, and so at least a day needs to be set aside with a followup day; ordinarily I work out a rate for the training independently of the cost of commercial shearing.
Can you recommend other shearers if you are not available?
The shearing community is a small and tightly-knit one. Most shearers are very cooperative about referring clients and even taking care of flocks for each other. If I am unable to come to you, or you have special needs (such as blade shearing) that I cannot accommodate, I will be glad refer you to another excellent shearer.
Will you shear other animals?
Yes! I have shorn dogs, ponies, camels, and cows. Most livestock guardian dogs need to be shed out rather than sheared and I offer that service. I don’t handle regular domestic dogs – you need a professional dog groomer for them!