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Shearing sheep – how wool is obtained

Shearing sheep – how wool is obtained

Shearing sheep removes their wool. This is done at least once a year, usually in spring when the weather conditions are best for the sheep. If the sheep are kept indoors in winter, shearing can also be carried out all year round. Most shepherds hire experienced shearers to ensure that the process is carried out properly and without stress for the animals.

This serves to keep the sheep healthy

Shearing is important to ensure the health of the sheep. Wool that is too long can trap dirt and moisture, which can lead to skin infections and other health problems. Shearing also reduces the risk of parasite infestation.

Sheep before shearing

Sheep have dense wool layers that keep them warm in winter, but in summer these wool layers can lead to overheating. If the wool remains too long, the sheep can have difficulty regulating their body temperature.

Shearing allows sheep farmers to better monitor the condition of the sheep. Early diagnosis and treatment of health problems are important to ensure the well-being of the sheep. Sheared sheep generally feel more comfortable and agile as they can move around more easily. This contributes to the overall quality of life of the sheep.

sheep shearer, a hard job

The sheep shearer specializes in shearing sheep and has the necessary experience and equipment to do this safely and efficiently. He hangs in a stooped position in a kind of chest sling in a spring-loaded gallows construction that supports his own weight. This allows him to shear the sheep in a more ergonomic way and he is more agile when holding the sheep. Shearing sheep is very strenuous and energy-sapping. The shearers work under a certain amount of time pressure, as only a small wage can be paid per sheep. Shearing a sheep may only take a few minutes in total.

Shearing sheep - Shearers at work

This is how he does it ...

Shearing sheep in the barn

During shearing, the sheep are laid on their backs to make it easier to access the wool. Even if this looks quite brutal in the photos, the sheep are handled very carefully. The wool is then carefully removed using electric shearing machines. If done correctly, the sheep remain motionless and the wool can be removed in one piece. It is particularly important to handle the animal with care so as not to cause any injuries to sensitive areas.

What happens with the wool

Of course, sheep are also shorn to obtain their wool. Wool is a valuable natural product that is used to make textiles such as clothing, blankets, felt and carpets. Poorer quality and heavily soiled wool is also used to make fertilizer pellets, for example.

Sorting and cleaning the wool

raw wool in a sack

The sheep's wool is sorted and cleaned on site according to its properties and cleanliness. This is particularly important to ensure that the wool has the right properties for the respective product. Not all residues, such as straw or grass residues, can be completely removed, which can lead to inclusions in the wool products.

From here, the wool goes to a laundry, which washes the wool and removes some of the lanolin (wool grease) before the wool can be processed further.

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