Dear Aggie: why do farmers shear their sheep?
A: We all get our hair reduce often. Whether it’s to shorten our locks for the summer season, change up our fashion to attempt one thing new, or just to keep up our hair’s well being. Shearing is when wool is reduce and faraway from sheep, much like how our hair is reduce. Farmers shear their sheep for a couple of causes and what they will do with the ensuing wool might shock you.
Not all sheep should be shorn frequently. There are some breeds of sheep that develop wool and should be shorn frequently, normally yearly. There are additionally some breeds of sheep that develop hair- which means that they don’t should be shorn. Wool breeds should be shorn frequently for a lot of causes. Sheep can get too scorching with extra wool, so that is one main purpose sheep are shorn. Regular shearing might help sheep keep cool throughout the summer season season. Additionally, shearing additionally helps the sheep keep clear. This is particularly essential for feminine sheep, or ewes, earlier than they offer delivery. Shearing a feminine ewe earlier than lambing season might help her keep clear each earlier than, throughout, and after the birthing course of, and may also make it simpler for her lambs to search out her teats to nurse. If there’s numerous wool hanging round the ewe’s udder, this could make it troublesome for the lambs to search out the teats. Increased cleanliness may also assist with fly and different pest administration. Shearing additionally permits for the assortment of the wool fiber from the sheep. This wool can then be used for numerous functions.
We have numerous sheep in New York. According to the 2021 USDA NASS State Agriculture Overview, as of the first of this 12 months, there have been 80,000 grownup sheep and lambs mixed throughout the state. Now, even contemplating that a few of these could also be hair sheep, there are nonetheless many sheep that produce wool in the state. You might ask, what may be finished with all of this wool? Farmers have totally different choices with regards to the wool left from shearing their sheep. New York has wool swimming pools all through the state. Sheep farmers can carry their extra wool to those swimming pools and promote their wool to a purchaser alongside different farmers. Sheep farmers may have the ability to promote their wool immediately, both to clients on-farm wanting it for spinning or knitting or to retailers which will course of or dye the fiber to promote. Some farmers even felt their wool to create ornament or reward objects from the fiber. There are many lovely objects that may be comprised of wool.
Sheep are shorn primarily for animal administration causes. The apply itself helps to maintain the sheep joyful, wholesome, and clear, and the leftover wool may be made into issues we will use in our on a regular basis lives. The subsequent time you slip on a pair of wool socks or purchase a wool-felted merchandise, consider how the fiber obtained from the sheep to you!
By Abigail Jantzi, Cornell Cooperative Extension dairy and livestock specialist
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