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Ram Shearing Talk – The Juice

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SHEEP BREEDS

As a professional shearer I have shorn many thousands of rams. They come in many different breed types. Merino, Dorset, Suffolk, Texel, Corriedale, Border Leicester, Composites etc etc.

BIGGER SHEEP

With the advent of advanced genetic selection some rams are getting bigger and bigger and with that size the temperament within some breeds can get aggressive. 

RAM JUICE

For many years now farmers have been using a sedative to get their rams shorn by professional shearers. 

WHAT IS IT?

The sedative is called Acetylpromazine or (ACP10). There are side effects to using ACP10. 

SIDE EFFECTS low blood pressure

  1.  Increase in temperature, making them temporarily infertile, if given too much ACP10

RAM MANAGEMENT

Rams should be kept quiet after administering the drug and left for 4 hours after shearing so the drug can wear off, no drenching, no organophosphate dips. Do not administer to old or sick rams.

PROTOCOLS

ACP10 has to be prescribed by a registered vet. Your vet will be able to tell you more on the drug. Usually the vet will come out to see your rams to check over them to advise on administering the drug.

WHAT HAPPENS

Suffice to say that a ram that may have been aggressive prior to sedation becomes sleepy and lethargic which renders the ram tame when shearing. 

OTHER SHEEP

ACP10 can also be used on ewes and wethers OVER 75KG for sedation. 

PROPER DOSE

As a general rule the sedation should be administered 30 minutes prior to shearing for the full effect of the sedation to take place. Currently the dose is 1ml to every 100kg liveweight of animal. It is to be administered via deep intramuscular injection into the rum, with 2 people doing the job.

STERILE RAMS

It is vitally important to stick to the prescribed amount of ACP10. The rams will not become more lethargic or sleepy by giving them more, but their blood pressure will drop and they won’t be able to regulate their body temperature. This will cause them to overheat. A ram can die, but generally will recover. The ram may become sterile for a couple of months after ACP10 is administered in too high a dose. So ensure ram shearing is done well before or after joining, to avoid this problem.

WHO CAN ADMINISTER ACP10

Only the owner of the sheep or the manager are able to administer the drug. Given that a lot of shearers have been knocked about by heavy, stroppy rams, they will probably ask to inject the rams and if they do they may have a tendency to overdose the rams, thinking it will take more of the kick out of them. This is one good reason for the owner or manager ONLY to inject the rams.

NO SHEARERS

Most shearers won’t know that giving the ram an extra dose won’t sedate it more, but will affect the ram with low blood pressure.

THANK YOU ORANGE VETS

Your vet will give you a full briefing on how to use the sedation drug to ensure safety for your rams and yourself.Thank you to John Mason (Vet) of ORANGE vets who has given me all the latest information on ACP10. Ram Juice

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Sheep Internal Parasites. Worms, the Silent Killers

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Family Feud, Moving Sheep

Getting Sheep in to drench them is always a palava. The dogs are going in the wrong direction, everybody is yelling, giving orders, somebody or two are staring off into the middle distance and the sheep get past them and we all have to run around them and gather them in again. Time is running short because everybody has something else to do other than drench sheep. Emails to send, farmers to book in for livestock contracting, homework to be done (usually music to listen to, whilst pretending to do homework). Rugby or soccer training to get to. Or somebody’s feelings are hurt because dad has roused on a kid again. Well this is the start of the day for drenching our sheep. Or should I say the start of the late afternoon. It happens less now than it used to. Only because we drench less. More about that later.

Then & Now

My childhood memories of drenching come flooding back to me. Growing up on a small farm, with 100 licorice allsort ewes and their lambs is a lot like our modern small farm experiences, with some differences.

Dad & His Theories

Dad used the same drench for as long as I can remember. Thibenzole. Dad said you could trust Thibenzole. You could take it yourself and it would never hurt you. We didn’t use thibenzole on ourselves but we made sure all the dogs had a good dose along with the sheep. Poor dogs!!! Trying to shove the drench gun down the throat of our poorly trained, once in a blue moon, sheep dogs was fraught with danger. They obviously didn’t like the taste and wriggled and jiggled to get away from me and my 4 siblings to avoid the taste. So we thought.. (Maybe they didn’t like the drench gun thrust down their throats in the name of ridding them of sheep internal parasites) Whatever were we thinking? 

Hard Work Entrusted To Us Kids

Our process for drenching when I was a kid was screaming and shouting. We had to push 15 or 20 sheep up into the old shearing shed, where we had a square yard 4m x 4m to hold and drench the sheep. I’m sure some sheep got drenched 3 times while others were never drenched at all. It was just too big for children to keep an eye on the sheep we had already drenched. This being said once the sheep were drenched, it felt like we had achieved a great milestone not only because we could get back to our cricket or footy game depending on the season but because our sheep were safe from the enemy, WORMS!!!!

Two Jobs at Once

We continued this style of drenching on our beloved mob of sheep, using the same Thibenzole drench until I was about 17. Then I learned to shear and crutch the sheep myself, so we drenched the sheep at shearing and crutching time. They were given Thibenzole just before I started the wool removal process. They also got a good drench at lamb marking time, the old fashioned way. I am sure that mob of sheep had the strongest natural resistance to worms in Australia. The same Thibenzole drench for at least 2 decades. It was survival of the fittest as the drench surely never killed a worm for many years as the worms built up their natural resistance to Thibenzole drench. They were bloody tough sheep.

Our Sheeps Job

Our sheep were a by-product of a busy family market garden. My parents used the sheep to clean up vegetable patches that were finished. We’d bring the sheep in on our picked paddocks of peas, beans, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, pumpkin and potatoes. They did a great job of devouring the weeds and the last of the vegetable plants and leaving their fertiliser mark on the paddock for next year’s crop. Dad was a great believer in putting back what you take out. In a way he was rotational grazing when rotational grazing didn’t have a name or was never even thought of. This helps lessen the worm burden, that Thibenzole couldn’t get rid of.

Light Bulb Moment to Kill the Worms

After I learned how to shear and went to TAFE to do a Certificate lll in Agriculture, we started to use a different family of drenches to Thibenzole. Ivermectin. The sheep were less daggy, bigger and heavier. After a family discussion we all realised the sheep worms were resistant to Thibenzole and we had to permanently change the way we drenched. We adopted a plan to rotate the drenches the sheep got to avoid resistance. This seemed to work for many years until we finally got rid of the old flock of sheep and started to trade a few lambs.

Farmer in Charge not the Worms

It wasn’t until 2016 when I leased a small farm of my own that I realised the importance of sheep management and a good drench plan, implementing a strategy of Worm Test Kits. Once I kept a good record of the drenches used and the Faecal Egg Counts coming back from the test labs, I could manage the flock much easier. Knowing the worm burden in our sheep was so important. It prevented unnecessary drenching, and made me think about my pasture and grazing plans to minimise worms on my pastures and in my sheep. It also helped me to recognise resistant drenches and effective drenches.

Facts Not Fiction

We collected our first Worm Test Kit off our local farm store for free. We followed the easy instructions and collected the sheep poo and sent it away to be tested. Three days later we had our results which indicated a very light worm burden. All egg counts were under 100 eggs per gram of faeces and some were zero. No need to drench. Just saved myself $1,200 on drench. We tested periodically 4 or 5 times per year and found we only had to drench once a year. We were very conservatively stocked and rotated our sheep frequently onto new pastures.

When to Drench

When our faecal egg count rose to nearly 1,000 eggs per gram we drenched and followed the drench with a worm test to see if the drench we used was effective in killing >95% of all eggs. Great news. We had nearly a 100% kill, with very few eggs showing up in that test. We made sure we collected the faeces 10 to 14 days after the drench to ensure the drench killed all existing worms and no new worms were established from infected pastures.

Periodic Detention for New Arrivals

At the time we were buying merino wethers for wool production. Everytime we bought in a new mob of wethers we quarantined the wethers and gave them a broad spectrum drench to ensure a knock down of the intestinal worms, followed by a Worm Test to ensure no resistance in the new mob. Once we had established no resistance the sheep were added to the main farm flock. This usually took about 3 weeks, but gave us a huge peace of mind. 

The Enemies Are;

    1. Barbers Pole Worm. Blood Suckers. Active in wet summers and can lay 5,000 to 10,000 eggs per day. Can kill a sheep very quickly because of its prolific breeding in the right conditions. Symptoms include Anemia, white gums, lethargic and bottle jaw. And finally death.
    2. Brown Stomach Worm and Black Scour Worm. These worms can be found in sheep all year round. Laying about 100 eggs per day. Symptoms include Scouring or dags around the crutch and weight loss. Doesn’t usually kill.
    3. Liver Fluke. Found in the gallbladder and liver of the sheep. Sheep ingest the tiny snail on creeks and low lying wet areas in the summer. The liver fluke will kill a sheep very quickly.

 

SAVE $$$$$

It is important to note that the biggest cost of having worms in your sheep is not the drench or the Worm Test Kit, but the loss of production and the death of the sheep. 90% of the cost of worms on your farm comes from loss of production not the cost of the test or the drench. So it is vitally important to know the health of your sheep by regularly testing for Faecal eggs in your sheep and managing accordingly.

Brains Not Braun

Managing your sheep flock for worms is not hard. It just takes planning. If you have a small flock you can get each sheep independently tested for Faecal egg counts and manage accordingly. Bigger mobs you can gather random fresh samples and manage the mob holistically, drenching as required the whole mob.

Healthy Sheep

Drenching when needed after a high Faecal egg count and then managing that mob of sheep using NON CHEMICAL CONTROL can really slow up the resistant worms in your mob. Keeping your sheep in tip top condition for longer periods of time. Maximising their production and improving their well being.

NON CHEMICAL CONTROL

Is a term used in your drenching plan to help minimise the use of drenching by managing your mob so they have less chance of picking up larvae from the pasture and finishing the lifecycle of the worms. These include.

  1. Genetics – Identifying the high risk to worm sheep. Easier to identify in small flocks when you individually test each sheep. Culling these sheep out.
  2. Nutrition – Have high quality feed in front of your sheep all the time. Using mineral supplements to maintain sheep health.
  3. Rotate with different species – Sheep, Goats and Alpacas carry the same sheep intestinal worms. If you want to clear up pastures with larvae on them cattle or horses can graze down that paddock and consume the larvae with no ill effects to the cattle or horses, leaving the pasture relatively free of larvae.
  4. Rotational Grazing – Move the sheep onto fresh pasture every few days, not allowing the sheep to graze the grass down to the last 4 or 5cm, which is where the larvae live. This will ensure a break in the life cycle of the larvae with fewer larvae consumed and less worm burden.
  5. Spelling paddocks – for up to 6 months in the cooler seasons to ensure the larvae die before putting sheep back on that paddock.
  6. WORM TEST – Test frequently to realise the worm burden in your sheep.
  7. Employ your local vet – Get them involved. They will know more on prevention and techniques that can really save you time, money and heartache and your sheeps well being will benefit from their advice as well.

Do all this in conjunction with a good drench and watch your sheep flourish.

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Sharpening Grinding your Sheep Shearing Blades Comb and Cutter

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I can remember as a young fella, countless times I sharpened my own blades for shearing sheep, thinking that I had my blades sharpened only to find that the blades weren’t even working half as well as most of my shearing mates. It wasn’t until I sat down with a good shearing friend of mine that we worked out where I was going wrong. 

There is plenty that can go wrong when sharpening your combs and cutters but unless you know “How To” grind your shearing gear properly you will only make your job shearing that much harder. Sometimes it can feel like you are pushing a loaded dump truck through the wool if it is not cutting properly. This can cause wrist injuries as well as a bad temper and frustration. It also tears the wool off your sheep instead of cutting the wool which hurts your sheep.

A comb and cutter work like a pair of scissors when you are shearing your sheep. Scissors have a hollow grind and so too does a comb and cutter. Here are some major points to consider when grinding your shearing blades.

  • You need to set your grinder up precisely to get the right height and distance from the edge of the grinding plate.
  • Start and Finish off on the same spot each time.
  • When you finish grinding the sparks need to be going straight up off the grinding wheel.
  • The comb and cutter need to have a hollow grind to enable them to work like a pair of scissors.
  • Change your emery papers regularly. A general rule is 20 combs and 40 cutters. Or when the sparks become dull when you grind.
  • DO NOT drop your grinding pendulum. This will bend the pendulum shaft causing a different angle everytime you grind. Buy a new pendulum if the shaft is bent.
  • If there is a glue bubble in your emery papers change the emery immediately. Your equipment will not sharpen properly and your blades may fly off the pendulum when grinding, creating a hazard
  • Use a wire string to put your cutters on, after the grinding session so they stay the same thickness for the life of the cutter. This makes for an even grind.

I use these instructions from Phil Jones who designed the Expert shearing pendulum. This is how I set my grinder up and how I grind other shearers combs and cutters as well. You cannot go wrong following these instructions.

Operating Instructions for Cutters

1) Draw a line through the middle of your grinding disc and attach the disc to the Grinder. 

2)  Draw a line through the middle of your cutter. 

3) With the drawn-on cutter on the locating pins hang the pendulum from the grinder and adjust the pendulum length until the line through the cutter and disc line up with the cutter 25mm in from the side of the disc. Tighten the hanging tube nut.

4) With a cutter on the pendulum hang it from the grinder hook. Adjust the grinder hook in or out until the cutter sits flat on the grinder disc as it touches the dics. Tighten the grinder hook adjusting nut on the grinder. You are now ready to grind.

5) Grind by landing your cutter on the disc moving towards the nut, take it to the centre of the disc and then to the very outside of the disc, ensure you use all of the emery. On the last stroke move from the inside of the disc to the position where you set the length of the pendulum and snap it off the disc. 

6) Check in a good light check all cutting edges around the tips of all teeth are sharp. Look for rounded edges if they appear resharpen. 

Operating Instructions for Combs

1) Draw a line through the middle of your grinding disc and attach the disc to the Grinder. 

2) Draw a line through the middle of your comb.

3) With the drawn-on comb on the locating pins hang the pendulum from the grinder and adjust the pendulum length until the line through the comb and disc line up with the comb 5mm in from the side of the disc. Tighten the hanging tube nut. 

4) With a comb on the pendulum hang it from the grinder hook. Adjust the grinder hook in or out until the heal (bottom) of the comb hits the grinder disc and the tips (top) of the comb is a match thickness (2mm) off the grinder disc. Tighten the grinder hook adjusting nut on the grinder. You are now ready to grind. 

5) Grind by landing your comb on the disc moving towards the nut, take it to the centre of the disc and then to the very outside of the disc taking 2 to 3 teeth off the edge of the disc. On the last stroke move from the inside of the disc to the position where you set the length of the pendulum (3 above) and snap it off the disc. 

6) Check in a good light, check all cutting edges where the tip of the cutter would have rubbed are sharp. Look for rounded edges if they appear resharpen. 

Safety Instructions 

  • Always wear eye protection 
  • Always wear ear protection 
  • Always press directly inwards towards the disc 
  • Keep small children clear of work area Care and Repair 
  • Wipe excess grinding dust from magnets 
  • Never use air pressure to clean the magnets 
  • Never oil or lubricate the pendulum 

Blade sharpening is just one of many aspects of sheep shearing but it is no less important then learning how to shear itself. Feel free to comment below with any problems or concerns you might have with sharpening your shearing gear.

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Shearing Explained in Written Form

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1 . Dragging a Sheep

  • Enter the pen quietly
  • Walk calmly up to a sheep that is facing away from you.
  • Use your knees to push the sheep against another sheep or the pen
  • Grab the sheep under the chin.
  • Grab the sheeps rump
  • With one motion pull down on the rump and lift up on the chin
  • The sheep will fall gently on its side 
  • Drag the sheep backwards either by its 2 front legs or by pulling one leg and the side neck wool

2. Starting Position

  • With the handpiece dangling from the parallel shortgut, place a dot on the floor directly beneath the handpiece. “Place the tail of the sheep on this spot”
  • The sheep should be facing slightly inwards at about a 1 o’clock position

3. Belly Wool

  • Place the sheeps right front leg, between your legs, behind your backside.
  • Ensure the sheep’s belly surface is flat where the brisket meets the belly proper.
  • Depending on the size of the sheep, you may have to lay the sheep flatter (for bigger sheep). More upright (for smaller sheep) to get the belly flat.
  • Your left leg should be slightly behind your right leg as you hold the sheep so the sheep sits on its inside hip. Sheep Comfort
  • Start the machine
  • With about ⅓ of a comb width start at the top of the brisket and follow the belly line down into the flank. Changing the angle of the handpiece to follow the body of the sheep. As you get to the flank, use your free hand and place it under the back of your clipper and pull the loose shorn skin up to bring the last of the belly flank wool into your comb. This will ensure you “Don’t cut the Sheep” in the flank.
  • Stay between the back legs of the sheep when shearing the belly.
  • 2nd Blow of the Belly should run parallel to the first blow. Using the same technique to finish the blow off by placing your free hand behind the clipper and pulling the skin up, which makes the wool come up to the comb. At this point you have a teet in front of the clipper. To avoid cutting the teet flick the clipper up with a loose wrist which cuts the wool but goes over the teets. Half the Belly should be done.
  • 3rd Blow will start at the brisket again. The brisket now should be free of wool. Run this blow parallel to the last blow following the same techniques as the previous blow.
  • 4th Blow, start underneath the shorn brisket and into the flank finishing the same as the previous blows. There may be only a tiny bit of the belly to finish so just clip that off. These last blows, drop the back of the clipper, which will help with a smooth finish and won’t leave tufts of wool.

4. Between The Hind Legs

  • Walk forward a couple of shuffles, this releases the sheeps front leg from behind your backside and enables you to reach where you are shearing.
  • 1st blow runs along the top of the inside leg. HINT Don’t run along the very top of the sheep’s leg. If the sheep kicks up into the clipper you can cut her badly. Run the blades slightly on the inside of her leg and you will never cut the sheep.
  • 2nd Blow, turn the clipper around to clear the wool from between her legs. Use a loose wrist here as the wool can be sticky. When you come around close to the teets, use your free hand to cover the teets so you don’t cut them. Continue the blow out to the end of the other  back leg.
  • 3rd blow, use the same technique as the 1st blow but this time on the sheeps outside leg.

5. First Hind Leg

  • Starting back at the hip knuckle of the sheep, run a blow on the outside of the back leg. NOT ON TOP!!
  • Turn the clipper around and run your 1st Blow into the flank of the sheep. Clear the flank completely of wool. This ensures proper blade entry on the Long Blow.
  • 2nd Blow start half way back on the flank and with the sheep sitting up straight between your legs and your toes pointing forward, run this blow straight through down to the backbone
  • 3rd, 4th and 5th Blows should run parallel to each other, finishing just before the backbone. You need to walk forward with your outside foot and back with your inside foot with each blow to expose the wool to be shorn.
  • 6th Blow goes under the tail.

6. Undermine

  • The undermine is 2 parallel blows to the floor. 
  • 1st Blow follows the top side of the backbone
  • 2nd Blow follows the bottom side of the backbone, closest to the floor. Use your free hand to pull the sheep slightly up to get this blow.
  • As you do both blows, keep the sheep high and step back slightly on your inside foot.

7. Head

  • After the undermine sit the sheep up straight again between your legs
  • 1st Blow should start from the muzzle end and go to the inside ear. Aim for the butt of the ear so you don’t cut the ear.
  • 2nd Blow follows the first blow and takes the wool form the middle of the head
  • 3rd Blow follows the last 2 blows and goes straight out to the butt of the outside ear

8. Neck

  • With the sheep sitting straight up and the sheep facing at 45degree angle to your downtube, walk between the legs of the sheep. With a 1-2-3 movement, starting off with your outside foot.
  • The sheep should be sitting up straight with its brisket over its right teet.
  • Your legs should be slightly bent and feet facing forward. The sheep should be well balanced and squarely in the middle of your hold. It feels very comfortable here with not much weight on your back or legs.
  • 1st Blow goes on the top side of the neck. Do a clearing blow and then go top side and as you get to the chin, change the angle of the clipper to come straight under the chin. 
  • Break the wool out with your free hand by following the shorn wool up the neck.
  • When broken out. Tuck the non shorn wool behind your inside leg knee so you can see your work clearly.
  • Clear the wool on the cheek now while you are up at the head. From the jaw run a blow straight to the butt of the ear. Go back to the bottom of the cheek and run a parallel blow, which is only half the first sheek blow. This small blow helps on your next 2 blows.
  • The 2nd neck blow should run parallel to the first but on the bottom side of the neck. It should finish at the base of the ear.
  • Now move your outside foot forward and inside foot back in a shuffle. This keeps exposing the sheep to be shorn. Also setting the sheep up for the long blow.
  • The 3rd blow runs parallel to the previous blow. Do another 1-2 shuffle with your feet. And run 2 blows behind the ear. This will help you on the long blow as well.
  • The 4th blow will run parallel again. This blow may seem too many for the neck but it will help you get over the shoulder blade, eliminating cutting the shoulder on the long blow

9. First Front Leg

  • Keep the sheep high at this stage as well. Your inside leg should have its knee in the sheeps brisket and the outside leg should be squeezing the sheeps upper back. This keeps the weight off your back when shearing. NOTE: Try to hold the sheeps weight with your legs, not your arms. Keeping the sheep more upright makes the sheep comfortable and less weight on the shearer.
  •  1st blow on the front leg should start at its elbow. Follow the previous blow to where the unshorn fleece makes a straight line.
  • 2nd blow will run adjacent to this blow and you will see where to stop the blow as the wooly straight line starts to stand out.
  • 3rd blow should follow the armpit and stop where the other 2 blows stopped
  • With your inside leg do a final shuffle with your foot and the rump of the sheep should swing out away from the downtube slightly.
  • The 4th blow starts under the armpit, where the belly wool was shorn and swings around adjacent to the previous blow. This blow helps you get a great rhythm on the long blow, where you can remove a lot of wool very quickly and easily.

10. Long Blow

  • Your inside leg should be between the sheep’s back legs and your outside foot should be under the sheeps shoulder with the sheeps 2 front legs behind the shearers outside leg. You should have complete control. 
  • The sheeps body should be sitting at about 1 o’clock.
  • There should be very little foot movement for the first 4 blows. Only move your outside foot slightly out to expose the sheep for its next blow.
  • Do 4x Blows running parallel to each other. 2 short blows then 2 longer blows. Always start with a full comb and finish with a full comb.
  • Place your inside leg over the rump of the sheep. Keep the foot about 5cm from the rump and move out slightly with your front leg.
  • 5th blow can be achieved easily now. This blow will run parallel to the backbone.
  • Move your outside leg about 15cm out and wrap the sheep’s head around your outside leg. At the same time bring your inside leg up to the rear of the sheep.
  • 6th blow runs parallel to the previous blow but will be over the sheeps backbone. Keep your comb full.

11. Last Side Cheek

  • Bring the front of the sheep inwards with your outside foot and have the sheep slightly on its backbone.
  • Hold the side of the sheeps head with your free hand against your knee.
  • 1st blow across the last cheek should come from underneath the ear. Drop the back of the clipper and direct the blow slightly up, using your free hand to hold the sheep’s ear back.
  • The 2nd blow runs parallel to this blow and should finish underneath the chin to clear any fribs.

12. Last Side Neck

  • 1st blow runs straight down the neck to the shoulder blade.
  • As you run this blow, bring the sheep’s head up between your legs and hold the sheep’s head with your knees.
  • 2nd blow runs parallel to the first, finishing at the shoulder blade.
  • The 3rd blow follows the 2nd blow.
  • Shuffle back slightly. Holding the sheeps head behind your legs and above your knees. This makes the sheep lighter
  • 4th blow runs parallel to the ground underneath the shoulder blade and clears and wool lest on from around the brisket.
  • 5th blow runs parallel to the 4th blow but will go straight out the front leg.
  • Do a small half blow on the leg parallel to the last blow.
  • Shuffle back a little more, keeping the sheep high and its backbone straight.
  • Lift the front leg and gently twist the elbow knuckle inwards. This makes a flat surface to shear on, eliminating cutting the sheep.
  • 6th blow should clear all the wool under the sheeps armpit but following the outline of the sheep. Finish this blow just under the elbow.

13. Whipping Side

  • Keep the sheep’s head high behind your legs. 
  • 1st blow runs downhill into the flank.
  • The 2nd blow runs parallel.
  • Bring the sheep’s head in front of your knees now and let the sheep rest on your inside leg. Hold the head still by having your free elbow on the sheep’s head.
  • The 3rd blow runs parallel to the previous blow but continues on out the leg. Use your free hand to feed the leg wool into the comb.
  • 4th blow runs parallel to the previous. When the blow gets past the hip knuckle press the hip knuckle in with your free hand
  • 5th, 6th, and 7th blows all run parallel to the previous blow. Start and finish with a full comb. Press the hip knuckle down with your free hand knuckles to keep the sheep’s leg straight.
  • Keep walking back slightly with each blow, exposing the sheep for the next blow

 

14. Congratulations, You Have Successfully Shorn a Sheep.

  • Let the sheep stand up and find its way out without any stress.
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Difference between a mechanical handpiece and an electric clipper?

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When I first started shearing sheep, I had no idea what an electric clipper was. All the professional shearers and main stream farmers I new used a mechanical handpiece. It was only after I had been shearing as a professional for 20 years did I discover the electric sheep shearing clipper. 

The reason I started using an electric clipper was because I started shearing small and hobby farmers sheep flocks. It was easier to plug an electric clipper into my generator and shear a small number of sheep then to set up my overhead gear and shear with a mechanical handpiece. I would have the sheep shorn and be on the road by the time I had set up my mechanical shearing equipment.

The main differences between the mechanical handpiece and the electric clipper are:-

The Electric Clipper Features

  • The electric clipper has a small electric motor inside the barrel of the clipper itself. They can vary in size from 180watts to about 350watts. Some are larger but with no real benefit.
  • An electric cord joins the clipper directly into the back of the clipper or the clipper can run on a battery pack system.
  • The barrel of the clipper is much bulkier to handle, due to the motor inside the barrel.
  • The barrel is longer as well to cope with the motor and the extra moving parts.
  • The speed of the cutter moving across the comb is approximately 2500rpm with some as high as 2900rpm.
  • As you put load on the clipper by pushing it through the wool, the rpm drops as the motor is put under load.
  • The electric clipper is mostly used by small farmers with smaller mobs of sheep. It is easy to set up, very portable and doesn’t involve a lot of other equipment to go with it.

The Mechanical Handpiece Features

  • The mechanical handpiece is powered by an overhead machine which is run from mains power. These overhead machines are much more powerful then the small motors in the electric clipper. The machines range in power from 300watts to 700watts.
  • The overhead gear has a shaft that connects from the overhead down to the handpiece which the handpiece is connected to and drives the handpiece
  • The barrel is very slimline and comfortable to hold.
  • The barrel is also shorter as there is no motor inside the handpiece.
  • The speed of the cutter going across the comb depends on the overhead setting. It can range from 2700rpm to 3500rpm. Factory set at 3500rpm.
  • As you put load on the handpiece by pushing it through the wool, the handpiece does not lose rpm as the overhead motor is much more powerful.
  • The mechanical handpiece is used by professional shearers and farmers with existing overhead gear.

As you can see there are advantages and disadvantages to both machines. It costs more to setup a mechanical handpiece system and overhead gear then it does an electric clipper. The mechanical handpiece does provide more power, which is good if you are shearing hundreds or thousands of sheep but if you just have a few to shear then the electric clipper would do the job very well indeed.