Opening /docrep/v9384e/v9384e08.htm
Harvesting of textile animal fibres. Chapter 4.

CHAPTER 4
FIBRE HARVESTING TECHNIQUES

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4.1 The New Zeland Wool Board Shearing Pattern

The New Zealand Wool Board's shearing pattern has evolved over the past 40 years and was originally developed by Godfrey Bowen who established the first shearer training schemes.

The pattern still adheres to the basic principles but refinements have steadily been made to take advantage of developments in equipment and technique which have followed from the growth of shearing as an international sport.

It is a style now used by the world's leading shearers. For individuals, efficiencies and improvements will be obtained by careful discipline, precise coordination and minimising stress to both the shearer and the sheep.

One of the secrets of successful shearing is being able to hold and move the sheep in such a way that it remains relaxed. This requires the shearer to be comfortable and balanced. Correct location and movement of the feet are vital. Where possible the illustrations indicate the appropriate positions.

Instructions from a shearing school or an expert shearer will help in perfecting this aspect of shearing technique.

The shearing patterns shown cover Merino, Crossbred including modifications for fat tailed sheep.

Also included in the Crossbred sheep shearing (4.1.2) section are recommended modifications for lamb shearing. The asterisk (*) identifies recommended lamb shearing variations. This should provide savings of approximately 10 blows per animal with practice and concentration.

4.1.1 Machine Shearing Merino Sheep

Merino wool is relatively highly priced when compared with crossbred wools. It is finer in diameter and shorter in the staple length so avoiding second cuts is essential. Merino sheep are soft-skinned and boney, and shearing varies from sheep to sheep.

Setting up of the gear is important because the skin of the merino cuts easily. Shear with as much lead on the comb as possible; that way the comb flattens the skin out of the way of the cutter. Also shear with a flat hand so that the teeth are tipped up a little.

It may be necessary to thin the tips if the entry of the comb is not easy.

Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern

Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
A. Belly - all blows must start high on the brisket to remove all discoloured fribs. Use left hand (on blow 2 particularly) to smooth out wrinkles. Shear across more to avoid prominent veins on belly.

Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
B. Use left hand to tighten skin and to protect teats.

Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
C. First hind leg 1 - Stretch skin with left hand. Blow 1 runs down, then 2 back up to flank.
Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
D. Topnot - Blow 3 must go in under horn.

Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
E. First shoulder (Option 1) - Sheep must be sitting up. Bring left foot in. Blow 3 starts under shoulder.

Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
F. First hind leg - Press left hand into flank.
Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
G. Face - Lift sheep up and clear side of face.
Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
H. First shoulder (Option 2) - On some sheep, blows run down the leg.
Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
I. Note: Denotes backbone. Third blow must be a full comb under backbone.

Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
J. Neck - Left foot must be well forward. A clearing blow to the bottom of the first fold, then in a circular motion run blows up neck to top of main neck fold. It is important to start as deep as possible on neck and not to break fleece open until it is completed. Blow 5 clears side of face. Insert: Blow 7 runs across wrinkle.

Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
K. Long blow - keep handpiece flat.

Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
L. Long blow - Bow sheep around leg and push head firmly down. Blow 6 leads into full comb around shoulder.

Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
M. Face - Blow 1 runs under horn. Blow 4 runs to first fold.

Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern


N. Neck - Lift head onto knee and shear down to first fold. Tuck head between knees, then run blows around folds to complete neck. Step forward on right foot to pick up leg as Blow 6 finishes.

Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
O. Shoulder - First blow clears inside of leg. Second blow slides at bottom of leg to flatten wrinkle.

Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
P. Last side - Keep handpiece flat. Second blow to hock.

Figure 4.1 Merino shearing pattern
Q. Last side - Pick up head and step back. Use the left hand to keep leg straight and stretch skin.

 

Source: Wools of New Zealand

Important Points

1. Select a medium to long bevel.
2. Use only factory bottom bends.
3. Use new combs wherever possible.
4. Use maximum lead to minimise skin cuts.
5. Remember points may need to be bright but not scratchy or prickly.
6. Merinos need a flatter hand. Keep the heel of the handpiece down to ride the wrinkles.

Only the bottom tooth here is suitable for merinos. 
Only the bottom tooth here is suitable for merinos.

 

Thin the tooth only to the left of the line.

Thin the tooth only to the left of the line.

 

 

4.1.2 Machine Shearing Crossbred Sheep

Crossbred sheep are different in body shape to Merinos, particularly around the neck area as they do not have the neck wrinkles and the skin is not as soft. Shearing Crossbreds requires to comb to run flat on the skin.

Shearing Fat-Tailed Sheep (Awassi)

In general, the Crossbred shearing pattern can also be adapted to shear fat tailed sheep with two modifications to the pattern.

1. The Fat Tail

The fat tail is shorn in conjunction with the "first hind leg". This will result in the tail staying under the sheep as the last leg is completed.

The shearing of the fat tail is detailed in figure 4.2.E. It is important to note when shearing the fat tail that the small "pig-like" tail protruding from the centre of the fat tail is not use to lift or move the fat tail as it easily breaks off causing profuse bleeding.

2. The Toggles

When shearing the Awassi type sheep there are two small (60-70 mm long) pendulum type glands situated either side of the throat, immediately below the jawbone. To accommodate these glands when shearing, note the modified shearing technique described in figure 4.2.G.

Figure 4.2 Machine shearing crossbred sheep

Figure 4.2 Machine shearing crossbred sheep
A. Belly - Delete blows 1a and 4. All blows must start high on the brisket. Remove all fribs and ensure easy entry for neck blows.

Figure 4.2 Machine shearing crossbred sheep
B. Crutch - *Blows 3 and 4 may be combined. protect teats on blow 2. Repeat if necessary to ensure a clean crutch.


C. First Le Figure 4.2 Machine shearing crossbred sheep

g - *Blows 1 and 2 may be combined. Gently push the wool upwards to remove skin wrinkles for blows 1 and 2.

Figure 4.2 Machine shearing crossbred sheep


D. Undermine - *Blow 1 may be deleted. Blows must run parallel to the back bone. One each side.

Figure 4.2 Machine shearing crossbred sheep
E. Shearing the Fat Tail. (Alternative to D.)

Figure 4.2 Machine shearing crossbred sheep
F. Top Knot. Place blows carefully. Blow 1 must clear top of eye and front of ear.




G. Neck - *Blow 2 may be deleted.

On blow 1 keep the top of the comb on the skin and finish square under the jaw.
With some sheep blow 2 may be deleted. If so, blow 4 would finish under the ear and another blow could run from the shoulder up and around the ear.

Awassi Modification. Make the first blow up the neck ensuring the nose of the sheep is turned down. Locate the toggles with the fingers of left hand and bring the bottom tooth of the comb above the top of the toggles and complete the blow under the jaw. Withdraw comb past toggles and with left fingers fold toggles up and take second blow under toggles and out the cheek.

Figure 4.2 Machine shearing crossbred sheep

 

H. First Shoulder - Roll wrist on back of neck to keep bottom teeth on the skin.

Blow 2 and 3 may be combined.

Turn sheep into long blow position while shearing blow 4.

Figure 4.2 Machine shearing crossbred sheep

 

I. Long Blow - Delete blow 2 on small lambs.

Keep sheep's head down and step over while shearing blow 3.

Blow 4 must not cross the backbone before the shoulder. It finishes square under the bottom ear.

Between blow 4 and 5 roll sheep over onto left foot to shear deep on shoulder and neck.

Figure 4.2 Machine shearing crossbred sheep

 

J. Cheek - *Delete blow 2 where possible.

Shearer's knees to support sheep's head.

Figure 4.2 Machine shearing crossbred sheep

 

K. Last Shoulder - Sheep's head turned nose up and placed high in between shearer's legs.

Blow 4 cleans fribs under leg.

Figure 4.2 Machine shearing crossbred sheep

 

L. Last Side - Shearer's legs must straighten before blow 2. Do not pressure sheep with legs or left hand.

Keep legs straight and relaxed.

Figure 4.2 Machine shearing crossbred sheep

Source: Wools of New Zealand
Note: There are no shortcuts to shearing successfully. It is critical that the blows in each section are completed. A learner or novice shearer may require more blows, initially, to make a good job.

4.1.3 Shearing Angora Rabbits

Shearing requires just as much mental effort as physical effort. Young rabbits should be ready for their first shearing at eight to nine weeks, but do not leave them any longer. Thereafter shear every 3 months.

4.1.3.1 Method

1. Use good quality electric clippers designed for the job.
2. Tie the rabbit on a flip-over shearing board. Alternatively, sit the rabbit.
3. Comb the animal to eliminate knots (mats) and any contamination with dirt or hay.
4. Remove the fibre in the order shown below. Take particular care around the doe's teats.
5. Avoid "second cuts" ie. cutting the fibre high up off the skin, then cutting a second time close to the skin.

To prevent second cuts, ensure the handpiece is angled so the comb runs on the skin. Pulling the skin back with the free hand will prevent the comb digging in and cutting the skin.

Second cuts happen easily because angora fibre is so light it doesn't fall away from the cutter. Working with an assistant who lifts the fibre away as it is cut is the most efficient way. The assistant must not pull the fibre or the shearer will cut the skin. One animal should take about 15-20 minutes to complete.

Figure 4.3 Shearing angora rabbits

Figure 4.3 Shearing angora rabbits
A. Make first blow up back legs to centre of the back above the tail.

Figure 4.3 Shearing angora rabbits
B. Clear the tail. Avoid nicking it.

Figure 4.3 Shearing angora rabbits
C. Make a blow along the centre of the back, then continue with a series of blows starting from the back leg.

Figure 4.3 Shearing angora rabbits
D. Make a blow down the side of the face.

Figure 4.3 Shearing angora rabbits
E. Turn the animal and repeat the same series of blows as on the previous side.


F. Stand facing the front of the rabbit and take blows from under the chin,
steadying the rabbit by holding the scruff of the neck. Figure 4.3 Shearing angora rabbits

 

Figure 4.3 Shearing angora rabbits
G. Turn the rabbit over. Check the number of teats. Note that the teats do not always line up as neatly as shown here.

Figure 4.3 Shearing angora rabbits
H. Clear groin, back and front legs. On does, raise the handpiece over the nipples. Leave fibre 10mm long on the belly of does.

Figure 4.3 Shearing angora rabbits
I. On bucks, the blows can run straight along the belly.

Figure 4.3 Shearing angora rabbits
J. Press on the nerve at the thigh joint to straighten the back legs. Trim the feet.

Figure 4.3 Shearing angora rabbits


K. Hold the rabbit vertical to trim the front feet.

Figure 4.3 Shearing angora rabbits


L. Finally trim any stray fibres. Then cut the nails and dose.

Source: Angora Rabbits by N. Rennie, T. Reece, D. Kearvell

4.1.4 Machine Shearing Llamas

Wool fibre covers the sides and the loin of the animal while hair fibre covers the chest, belly, head and legs. A machine shearing technique has been developed for alpacas in Peru by R. Dunick, a New Zealand Wool Board shearing instructor. The animals are shorn lying on their side with the two hind legs tied to a wall. Electric clippers with sheep shearing comb and cutters are used. An assistant holds the alpaca by both front legs, stretching and rolling the alpaca to expose the unshorn parts for the shearer. Shearing is initiated on the right side by first running a blow from the belly line, vertically to the shoulder area towards the withers. A second blow is made along the hairy belly line towards the rump, and then repeated blows run lengthwise until the backline is reached. The fleece is collected and the alpaca rolled over to repeat the procedure on the other side in the opposite direction. The fleece from the back and side is collected separately as "premier fleece" and the rest as "oddments" including neck (fine, short), chest (or apron) (coarse, long), belly (hairy) legs and pieces (head, shanks and tail). The shearing is carried out in this sequence: body, belly, hind legs, tail, front legs, neck and head as detailed below.

Figure 4.4 Shearing Llamas

Figure 4.4 Shearing Llamas 
A. Shearing is initiated on the right side by first running a blow from the belly line
vertically up the shoulder and towards the withers.

Figure 4.4 Shearing Llamas
B. A second blow is made along the hairy belly line running towards the rump,
and thus a separation line is formed between fleece and oddments.

Figure 4.4 Shearing Llamas
C. The shearing blows are repeated lengthwise until the backline is reached and them completed
by running an extra blow over the backbone into the other side.

Figure 4.4 Shearing Llamas
D. The alpaca is rolled on to the right side to initiate a blow from the lower rump
separating the hairy britch towards the back line (lumbar vertebra).

Figure 4.4 Shearing Llamas
E. A second blow is made along the hairy belly line towards the front shoulder point.

Figure 4.4 Shearing Llamas
F. The blows are repeated to complete the fleece shearing.

Figure 4.4 Shearing Llamas
G. The alpaca is rolled onto its back and the belly shorn from the lower abdomen towards the chest.

Figure 4.4 Shearing Llamas
H. The alpaca is swayed slightly to the left and the right hind leg is shorn from the upper to
lower parts and the shank cleared.

Figure 4.4 Shearing Llamas
I. The alpaca is swayed slightly to the right and left hind leg shorn as in H.

Figure 4.4 Shearing Llamas
J. The body is stretched and the right front leg exposed to shear from the upper to lower part
and the shank cleared. A blow is run from the shank to the lower neck.

Figure 4.4 Shearing Llamas
K. Similarly, shearing is carried out on the left front leg and continued onto the neck,
both underneath and along the side.

Figure 4.4 Shearing Llamas
L. The back and right side of the neck and head are shorn while rolling and holding the alpaca by the head.

Source: NZ Society of Animal Production

4.1.5 Blade Shearing Sheep

An expert blade shearer must master the following six important points.

1. Control of the sheep - get right down over the sheep and become part of it.

2. A positive hand - the shearing hand must be positive in its action, with control and finish.

3. A good wrist - the wrist of the shearing arm must be supple and flexible, able to work both ways, turning to keep the bottom blade on the sheep and bending forwards to finish every blow.

4. Return action - fast back and near the sheep but watch that the blade comes back only to the start of the blow.

5. Use the left hand to prepare the wool just in front of the blade. Try to control the sheep as much as possible with the legs.

6. Rhythm and timing are important keys. Actions should be smooth and the shearing of each section is run into the next so the sheep is shorn in an even flow.

The technique of a good blade shearer is to shear the sheep once only, and to leave the same wool length all over the body of the sheep.

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing

 

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing
A. Hold both front legs up under the left arm.
The shearer pull his legs back tight against the
sheep the stretch the belly.

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing
B. Right knee in front of the brisket.

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing


C. Right foot moves back when clearing over the tail.
Note: (Full blow over the backbone).

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing
D. Remove all the trimmings inside the leg.

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing
E. Blow 15 roll the head starting on the top side of the brisket. Finishing square under the jaw.

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing
F. Clear up behind the ears and top knot with
the sheep's head below the shearer's knee.

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing
G. Shear into the first shoulder, keeping points of shears down onto the skin.

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing
H. Shear around the first side moving left foot away from
the sheep to let the sheep lie down.
For blow 26 to commence the long blow.

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing
I. Put blow 27 in as the sheep drops down. Step over with the right foot, as blow 28 finishes.

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing


J. Complete a full blow over the back bone, as blow 29 finishes step forward with the right foot turning toe in.
( Denotes backbone).

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing
K. The last cheek is cleared before releasing sheep's right front leg.

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing
L. Step out with the left foot when blow
37 is completed.

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing
M. The sheep's head is bought forward of shearer's legs.

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing
N. Grip the loose skin in the flank, and roll the fist on
the firm part of the leg to keep it straight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

O. A Guide to Pattern Shearing

Figure 4.5 Blade shearing

Source: Wools of New Zealand

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