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The Country Enterprise Handbook
Analysing your assets|Land use|Vegetables|Soft fruit|Flower & herb growing|Orchard & vineyard|Woodlands Sheep|Beef|Pigs|Rabbits|Hens|Ducks|Geese|Dairying|Kitchen|Bees|Wool|Water|Home|Contact us

Keeping sheep
...Slaughter practicality
...Jacobs crosses
...Ram management
...- Feeding
...- Castration & strike
...Summer & autumn

Almost every sheep is clipped by electric shears.

If you intend to do this yourself, if is definitely worth being shown the technique by an expert. It is very easy to cut the sheep's skin. Agricultural Colleges often hold day-courses in sheep-shearing and lambing. You can also clip using sheep shears; these require strong wrists and care in use. Skilled users can clip astonishingly quickly with them. You can also clip with large sharp scissors: this, although unorthodox, is extremely effective.

Sheep are shorn in the early summer when the wool starts to lift. When you push some of the fleece away so that you reveal the skin, you can see a thinner band in the wool just above the skin. This is where you cut. The fleece should come off in one great piece to be rolled and tied. If you put the sheep on to clean concrete for shearing or failing that on to a clean sheet or something similar, you will keep the fleeces clean. This is especially important if you are intending to hand-spin the fleece or to sell it to someone who is. It is always amusing to see the goat-like creature that emerges from the sheep's fleece. Within a few days they look fairly normal again, but initially even the sheep move around somewhat furtively in their new freedom.

The wool is a valuable product. If you have more than four sheep and intend to sell the wool, you can legally only sell it to the Wool Marketing Board. Unlike everything else, the price you will obtain has not altered dramatically in recent times and your wool will certainly seem undervalued. You can, of course, split the ownership of the sheep around the family: four for Mother, four for Father, four for each of the children. Craft shops often buy good fleeces as, of course, hand-spinners will. It is worth repeating: wool is valuable. After all, one fleece could produce a jumper, hat and gloves for each member of a family of four; unfortunately, when a monetary value is put on the fleece, this never seems to be reflected.