A little off the top, please!
It’s time for our sheep to get a haircut! Shearing our sheep is not just about giving them a new “do” for the summer, it’s about keeping our sheep healthy, comfortable and happy. That nice heavy coat of wool that covers them from neck to hoof is great for keeping our sheep warm during cold Canadian winters but it can lead to heat stroke during our hot summer months, and, over time, if a sheep is not sheared regularly, the overgrowth of wool can lead to difficulty moving and can become home to parasites such as ticks, lice and mites which, in turn, can lead to many diseases, some of which can be fatal.
How to shear a sheep
There are a few ways to shear a sheep including using scissors or electric clippers. We use electric clippers and do all our sheep shearing ourselves so it is less stressful on our residents. During the 20 minutes or so that it takes to shear one sheep, we multitask so that our sheep get the full spa treatment including a hoof trim and full body exam at the same time.
We often get asked questions about the sheep shearing process so here are some of our Frequently Asked Questions About Shearing (FAQAS)!
Q: Does shearing hurt the sheep?
A: No. If it’s done properly and by an experienced shearer, it doesn’t hurt any more than you getting your hair cut. We are very careful and work slowly to minimize the risk of any cuts or scratches and to reduce stress on the animal. (This is very different than commercial shearing which is done for speed and without much regard for the animal’s comfort or safety.)
Q: How do sheep in the wild survive without being sheared?
A: Sheep in the wild are different than domesticated sheep. Over time, people bred sheep to produce an abundance of excess wool for human use, which most wild sheep don’t have. In the wild some breeds of sheep, however, will in fact “shear” themselves by scratching their bodies up against trees to remove most of their coat as the weather warms up.
Q: What do you do with the wool?
A: In the past we’ve composted some of the wool and put some of it out and about for birds to use for their nests. Unfortunately, in Canada we are currently experiencing outbreaks of avian flu and we don’t want to encourage bird populations to visit the Sanctuary grounds. So, instead, to protect the health of our residents, we will be composting all the wool collected this year.
Q: How cute do the sheep look after their haircuts?