There are several reasons why sheep need to be sheared:
- Body Temperature. They need to keep cool in the warmer months of the year by getting rid of thick wool
- Infections. Shearing regularly minimizes the risk of parasitic infections that might occur in the sheep’s wool.
- Wool Quality. Yearly shearing allows the sheep’s wool to become of a much higher quality
- Agility. Removing thick wool makes the sheep more agile as they are able to move around more easily, allowing them to stay away from threats.
- Farmer Income. Shearing produces wool for the farmer.
For domestic sheep, yearly shearing is recommended. Not only will this keep the sheep healthy and happy, but it will also provide the farmer with a good flow of wool that they can use to create their products or sell for profit.
Why do Sheep Need to be Sheared?
Sheep shearing is a necessary process that all farmers need to do. It can be quite a significant cost, but it is a cost that the farmer needs to take into account to find success.
With that in mind, here are some of the main reasons why sheep need to be sheared regularly.
1. Shearing Keeps Sheep Cool
The first and perhaps the most important reason why sheep need to be sheared is that shearing will keep them cool in the warm summer months.
The sheep’s wool plays an important role for the sheep: in the winter, it will keep them warm when temperatures start to drop. It provides them with a layer of safety that allows them to stay outdoors even when it gets very cool.
They can stay outdoors even at temperatures as low as 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
But this also means that when the weather gets warmer, the wool will become a nuisance. It will further increase the temperature for the sheep by a few degrees, which will make the sheep feel too warm and uncomfortable.
For this reason, yearly shearing is not only recommended but for some sheep breeds a must, especially for sheep with thicker coats.
However, some sheep breeds might not need yearly shearing, but that’s a rarity. Breeds of sheep that don’t need shearing include:
- Katahdin sheep
- Dorper sheep
2. Shearing Prevents Parasitic Infections
An unsheared sheep is more likely to develop parasitic infections on their skin and in their bodies as a result of the buildup of bacteria, germs, debris, urine, and waste in their wool.
It can be quite hard to stop a parasitic infection once it starts to develop and spread. It might get so bad to the point of no rescue for the sheep, although this is rare.
Failure to shear a sheep can therefore cause additional costs for the farmer, and the best way to avoid these costs is by shearing the sheep regularly.
Regular shearing will keep those infections at bay and keep the coat of the sheep healthy.
Once the wool is sheared, it will quickly regrow and start replenishing in a naturally healthy way.
3. Regular Shearing Produces Higher-Quality Wool
If you’re someone who’s looking to sell the sheep’s wool for profit (or if you’re looking to use it to create products of your own) then you’ll want to have wool that is of high quality.
One thing that can help farmers improve the quality of their flock’s wool is to ensure that their sheep are sheared at least once a year.
Farmers who want to make a profit from sheep’s wool want to ensure that they have the highest-quality wool possible. This will depend on a range of factors such as the breed of the sheep and its pedigree.
However, more importantly, the care the sheep receives from the farmer can affect the wool quality. A part of this includes maintaining the sheep’s health and ensuring regular shearing of the sheep.
The quality of the wool is also determined by the sheep itself, its health, its gender and breed, but you’ll also find that the better and the more quality the shearing is, the better the wool is likely to be.
4. Easier Movement
Thick wool will weigh the sheep down. It will cause the sheep to be less active, uncomfortable, and even more vulnerable to predation from wildlife such as wolves.
For this reason, it’s important to get rid of this additional burden by removing the excess wool. The sheep feel a lot lighter and more comfortable when they don’t have a shaggy coat weighing them down.
Not only will this give them more freedom in their lives, but it will also prevent them from snagging on fences and getting caught in trees.
A thinner coat will make the sheep healthier as it will move around more and prevent potential injuries that happen with stagnation such as infections of the foot.
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5. It Produces Wool
Shearing will produce wool for the farmer, which is one of the main reasons farmers keep sheep in the first place.
Breeds like Merino sheep are bred specifically for their wool, meaning the entire purpose of having the sheep is to shear them!
Many farmers keep their sheep for their wool, although this isn’t always the case. For example, sheep are also kept for their meat because we can eat sheep. Farmers can send their lambs to slaughter to create soft, tender lamb steak or even slaughter adult sheep to create mutton meat.
Nevertheless, even sheep who are not kept for wool need to be sheared. Improper shearing can cause injuries for the sheep and it might degrade the quality of the wool, so it needs to be done correctly.
Shearing might seem to some people as an unimportant or excess task that needs to be done, but it has more importance for the sheep than it might seem at first. Not only will it provide the sheep with relief from the heat, but it will also produce higher quality wool, prevent infections, and allow the sheep to move more freely.
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