PREPARING ANIMALS FOR SHEARING
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2.1 Preparing Sheep for Shearing
It is very important that wool looks its best when displayed for sale. To ensure this occurs, the following preparation measures should be practised.
- Shearing is stressful for sheep. To reduce this, move sheep from the grazing area to the shearing shed quietly and always handle sheep with care.
- Dag the sheep at least seven days before shearing.
- In between dagging and shearing, keep sheep on a maintenance ration - unless the ewes have lambs at foot.
- Avoid penstain. Penstain is caused by sheep defecating on each other through being penned too closely. Penstain will affect the way the wool takes up dye. To avoid this fault, hold the sheep in a bare paddock for at least six hours and preferably 12 hours before penning up for shearing. The shearing yards should be well drained. If a mob is pen stained, don't mix it with a clean mob. Never tightly pen sheep with full stomachs into yards.
- If there are sheep with different lengths of wool, breeds or sex, draft them into separate mobs.
- If possible, keep sheep out of undeveloped and/or seedy areas in the weeks before shearing.
- Never shear wet sheep, as wool which is shorn wet will discolour very quickly.
Once the sheep are shorn it is important to provide plenty of feed and shelter, particularly if shearing is close to lambing. Shorn sheep feel the cold and shelter from wind and rain is essential for the first week after shearing.
2.2 Preparing Angora Goats for Shearing
The preparation of the mohair clip for sale is the culmination of the year's work. The fibre shorn reflects the "total environment" experienced throughout the growing period. The total environment includes the physical environment and the husbandry practices of the grower.
As shearing approaches every effort should be made to protect the long mohair from the possibility of contamination from vegetable matter, dust and pigmented fibres. Such contamination will depreciate the value of the mohair. It is advisable to keep the goats in clean, well grassed, open paddocks to avoid contamination from dust and vegetable matter. Avoid crowding or yarding the mohair producing goats with coloured grade animals. The pigmented fibre from such animals often contaminates otherwise clean mohair.
Some animals particularly crossbreds, shed hair in the spring. It is good management to shear before this occurs. As the fleece sheds it also mats and these fleeces must be kept separate to prevent their discounted price affecting other fleeces.
Fineness of fibre to a large extent is determined by the age of the animals, and therefore it is advisable to draft the herd into age groups, eg. kids - 2-4 tooths and mature aged goats, prior to shearing. The various age groups should then be shorn separately.
2.3 Preparing Alpaca for Shearing
Alpacas should be grouped separately before shearing for sex, age (ie. adult, Tui and Cria) and coat colour, each grouped being shorn separately. The recommended shearing sequence is from white, grey, brown, black and lastly, mixed colours to minimise colour contamination. Likewise, the Cria should be shorn first, then the Tui and followed by the adult.
Apart from this separation prior to shearing, Alpacas do not require any other pre-shearing preparation.
2.4 Preparing Cashmere, Camels and Yaks for Shearing
There appears to be no special pre-shearing treatment required for these animals prior to harvesting the fibre owing to the manner in which the fibre is harvested.
2.5 Preparing Angora Rabbits for Shearing
Provided the angora rabbits have been kept in clean cages and on proper rations, there should be no special pre-shearing treatment of the rabbit. However, if some animals are dirty or their fur is contaminated with vegetable matter, these should be kept separate to prevent cross contamination of the faulty fibre with clean fault free fibre.
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