Sunday, February 03, 2019

Shearing Time Begins with Magic

Havencroft Magic, daughter of Havencroft Luke and
Havencroft Hocus Pocus is due to lamb February 11.
She's the first ewe sheared for the 2019 season.

We started shearing today here on Havencroft Farm.

We start shearing this time of year because it is much better for the ewes to be sheared a week or two before lambing.

We breed our ewes to lamb this time of year for several reason, but mostly because, even though our jacob sheep are very parasite resistant, we help them with that in all ways possible. We want our lambs growing big and healthy and strong before we reach the time of year with above 60-degree nights. That's when the barber pole worms and other parasites flourish. If the young ones have some good growth on them, they are able to resist the parasites.

Havencroft Molly
Molly is Magic's cousin. Her mum Higgldy-Piggldy is sister to Hocus-Pocus.
Molly and Magic are also sisters on the paternal side. They are best friends,
and now that they are sheared, they look a lot alike. Luckily, Magic has a
dot on her nose and Molly doesn't. Now that she's sheared, it looks like
Molly has some freckles, too.

We breed to lamb in February and March, so, we shear in February and March.We do all the shearing ourselves, by hand. We also have busy work schedules, so we shear two to four a weekend. This time of year especially, we shear them in pairs, usually Mother-daughter or sisters or close friends. That way the newly sheared sheep can cuddle together in the shelter at night and keep each other warm.

Among the reasons to shear before lambing are:

  1. There is a natural break that occurs in the fleece due to the hormones when a ewe lambs. If you don't shear around this time, you will end up with a break in your wool, a problem when you spin it.
  2. When the ewes are sheared before lambing, it is easier for the lambs to locate the udder for that all important first drink of colostrum.
  3. If the ewe is sheared, she'll know when it is cold or wet, and go into the shelter. Her lambs will follow her.
  4. If the ewe is sheared, she can cuddle and share body heat with her lambs. If she is still wrapped up in a full wool fleece, all the heat stays inside. Her lambs can freeze if they can't share her body heat.
  5. We leave tails on, and it is easier to see udder development and lambing signs on a sheared ewe.

My daughter Lena and I do all the shearing ourselves,
by hand, on a stand. It's what works well for us
and gives us time with our sheep. It gives me
good spinning and weaving fleeces. 

We have 12 bred ewes this year, so even at only two a weekend, we'll get through them by mid-March. The other 13 sheep will get sheared around and after the ewes. The old sheep don't get sheared until the nights are staying warm. The angora goats get sheared in April and October and the three alpacas get sheared in May.

So if you're looking for me on the weekend from now until May, and it's not raining, and I'm not in the garden, I'll be out back shearing.

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