Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sheared Sheep

Around this area, April is the month for sheep shearing. A temporary camp is set up in the same location for a week each year, sheep shearers come all the way from Australia and New Zealand (they are on a sheep shearing circuit in the U.S. for a few months), and thousands of sheep are gathered. They (the sheep, not the sheep shearers) have thick, wooly coats that have spent the last year growing.

A specialized sheep shearing trailer is brought in, and the sheep are moved through it efficiently, with over 1,000 sheep sheared each day. Unfortunately I didn't manage to get any pictures of the actual shearing (I guess I'll have to keep this blog going another year to get the photos!). But I do have some photos of sheared sheep to show. 

After being sheared, the sheep are put into a pen. They look a little strange without their bulky wool. I wonder if they feel naked. If you're wondering what the blue marks are on the sheep, it's paint. Instead of branding sheep, the sheep owners paint their brand onto the sheep. In this case, the "brand" is in the shape of a heart.

This big ram was watching me take photos. By the curl of his horns, you can tell he's been around awhile. He looked calm in the pen. He's obviously been through this procedure quite a few times and has resigned himself to his once-a-year haircut.

The wool is bundled into cubes and then loaded into a semi trailer. They were trying to push the cubes in a little more to get the last few loaded. This semi trailer is carrying wool from thousands and thousands of sheep. 

As the truck is getting packed up, the last sheep camps are being prepared to move to the next camp. During the week, many of the people involved with the shearing stayed at the remote sheep corral, being serenaded at night by the baaing of sheep.

After being processed, the sheep are herded back onto the range. These two pause for a drink.

Although our ranch doesn't raise sheep anymore (the boys sold the sheep they hated taking care of one year when their dad was on an extended trip), sheep are still a very big part of the valley. At one time there were strong feelings between cattlemen and sheepmen, but nowadays most everyone gets along. Both sheep and cattle graze specified allotments, and thus the two usually don't mix unless the owner has both and wants them to.

Most of the sheep will be leaving our area soon, heading towards their summer range. But they'll be back next fall. If you can't wait that long, here are some other posts I've done about sheep.


The Incredible Woody said...

Oh, they look so cold without their wool!!

A said...

What do they do with the wool? I assume they send it somewhere to process it. I wonder what sorts of things it gets used for.

Anonymous said...

hoopes sheep shearing sheared these sheep they are from wyoming okleberrys are who own the sheep

Anonymous said...

that's my family!!!!!!!!!!!
the wool gets used for many different things. it generally goes out to a processing plant and is distributed to different places that make all sorts of wool products....

so proud of the family business!

Anonymous said...

Do you know how Much the shearers get paid per sheep?

Anonymous said...

Good post.

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