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Author Topic: "Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare  (Read 10328 times)

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
"Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare
« on: November 29, 2012, 12:52:11 pm »
This conversation arose in another thread (about ear tagging), when Blacksheep mentioned that Zwartbles are supposed to be clipped in the winter in order for their fleeces to be judgable come the showing season.

I am intrigued by all this so would like to get a conversation going.

Not meaning to be provocative, just thinking out loud...  I have mixed feelings about doing cosmetics to sheep which then give rise to welfare issues...  Although I suppose show folk are always going to take very good care of their show sheep so I suppose the sheep should be ok....   :thinking:

And the other thought I had was this.  Is the fleece any good for spinners?  Do you clip again in the summer?  Is that then too short for spinners or not?

In Iceland they clip before housing and again in the summer.  I guess they don't autumn clip the sheep that winter outside...  One day I'll find out, we're plotting a trip to Iceland, maybe next year...

And I've just bought a delicious Teeswater lamb's fleece - I assume the lamb in question will be housed over winter now.  I guess there are a lot of places in Britain where a longwool fleece is a hazard in wet. mud, snow, hot ... goodness, when are the poor things actually comfortable?! 

I have a gazillion other thoughts in similar vein but will shut up now (for a bit anyway  ;)) to see what anyone else has to say!
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

YorkshireLass

  • Joined Mar 2010
  • Just when I thought I'd settled down...!
Re: "Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2012, 12:56:22 pm »
I think Gotlands are sheared in autumn/winter too, if you know anyone with any to ask?

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: "Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2012, 01:31:19 pm »
I would normally (hand)clip my Gotland/texel girls in mid/late SEptember, otherwise the fleece will felt up. I would have thought that in Sweden (or Gotland?) the sheep will also be housed during the winter, although not sure on this.
I leave the bellly wool on them, makes for a really non-flattering look... and would only clip when there is a forecast for a few warmish days. If need be I can house them in an open-fronted barn for a few days until their skin adjusts.
Because of the bad weather (and the girls NEVER being dry) I didn't do it this autumn and will have to come up with a "Felting" plan for those.... peg-loom springs to mind....
On a different angle... I noticed my lambs have a really thick fleece this year, not sure how much will be there come next May....

SheepCrazy!

  • Joined Nov 2012
  • Dumfries and Galloway
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Re: "Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2012, 02:32:47 pm »


Hi

There's a company in Wales that makes turn out rugs for sheep! On the same basis a horse rug, some Jacob breeders shear their show sheep in January (chilly) and then rug them up!

Hope that helps

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
Re: "Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2012, 03:02:02 pm »
I'm all for the natural way  :eyelashes: .  We used to keep Jacobs but were not prepared to shear early just to show and as we didn't house them they needed their fleeces to live outside over winter.  Nor were we prepared to do all the primping and fluffing and trimming required to show Jacobs, and most other breeds, so we have gone for sheep which are shown 'straight off the hill' (most are of course still primped a bit  ::) )
 
There are some issues with Hebs being shown at the Highland Show.  Initially (classes have been held for Hebs at RHS since about 2000) they were all to be shown shorn, so breeders were shearing way back in the winter, to give a long enough fleece to judge.  Then we had a couple of exceedingly wet Junes (RHS is in June) and the welfare problems of early shorn sheep became evident.  So the current rule is that ewes with lambs are shown in full fleece, the rest must be shorn.  This is not satisfactory either, as in a hot year, ewes are heat stressed, especially in the show pens for 4 days, and in cold/wet years the gimmers and males shiver.
 
  A slightly different issue arises with Shetland sheep, which are a naturally roo'ing breed.  They too are shown in full fleece at the Highland Show.  This means that those showing must choose those sheep least likely to have lost their fleeces by late June.  This in turn selects away from self-shedding sheep ie the natural type.  A dilemma  :thinking:
« Last Edit: November 29, 2012, 03:03:54 pm by Fleecewife »
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kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
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Re: "Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2012, 03:06:32 pm »
hmm I admit after some reflection on this  i have yet to come up with a definate either way and have tried variously trimming rooing shearing long and everything in between. How can you judge the fleece without the fleece on the sheep but if its later in the summer.......does anyone have an answer?
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Blacksheep

  • Joined May 2008
Re: "Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2012, 03:32:25 pm »
I think some commercial farmers shear their ewes at housing, prior to lambing.

One high quality fleece producer I spoke with said that she shears her sheep at the start of winter for the best fleece for spinners and feltmakers.  This ensures that the fleece is good quality and at at cleanest without bits of hay etc in it, however there are significant additional costs for feed and bedding for the sheep that then spend the winter barned.

As sheepcrazy says you can get turnout rugs for sheep made, as well as use foal or large dog rugs, so anyone who is just having a couple of sheep shorn for showing later in the year could possibly try these.
Also I mentioned on the other post the shearer can use combs on his shears so that there is some coat remaining on the sheep after shearing.  If we can get our trimmer to come out to do a couple of ewes in February I will be asking him to use combs if possible. 

Whilst top show sheep will certainly kept mollicoddled and well fed by their owners, I don't like the trend with some Zwartbles breeders to keep them in through the show season to prevent any bleaching to their fleeces. I am also not sure that feeding a predominately concentrates diet would be that good for the sheep in the longer term either. 



SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: "Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2012, 03:52:24 pm »
How can you judge the fleece without the fleece on the sheep but if its later in the summer.......

Well, speaking as a spinner, I want the fleece judged off the sheep - there are things you can't know until you see the fleece on its own! 
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: "Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2012, 04:02:29 pm »
If the sheep are to be housed, it is better for them to be sheared as I understand it, less pneumonia etc if they are. If they arent to be housed then show sheep or not, I dont agree with shearing them.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: "Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2012, 04:04:52 pm »
If the sheep are to be housed, it is better for them to be sheared as I understand it, less pneumonia etc if they are. If they arent to be housed then show sheep or not, I dont agree with shearing them.
Very succinct and I think I have to agree with you, llm.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Blacksheep

  • Joined May 2008
Re: "Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2012, 04:22:29 pm »
re having fleece growth on the sheep when showing, it was more about judging the sheep classes, rather than specifically judging for fleece, although the fleece is taken into account when breed classes are being judged, a tight fleeced sheep being judged better than one with a more open soft fleece, so a different judging process to judging a fleece for spinning!

With more fleece on a sheep it is easier to shape them and they look bigger so harder to compete if you have a more recently shorn sheep in a class of sheep with plenty of sheep. One judge said that he could not place our ewe against properly show prepared and trimmed sheep, so a very clear message that she needed to be winter shorn to stand any chance, she is a good ewe that had done well showing the previous year.   

quiltycats

  • Joined Nov 2012
  • Ooop North
Re: "Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2012, 04:24:08 pm »
I clipped my show boys (Ryelands) in March, doing a small area at a time so that they gradually got used to it, regular showers tend to say clip in January but that is way too early for me to even contemplate on welfare grounds. When they did enter the show one well respected shower was surprised I'd clipped that late because their fleece was every bit as good, or long I guess, as any of the January clipped animals.

I'd rather buck the trend or not show at all than compromise their happiness and comfort.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
Re: "Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2012, 04:26:50 pm »
How can you judge the fleece without the fleece on the sheep but if its later in the summer.......

Well, speaking as a spinner, I want the fleece judged off the sheep - there are things you can't know until you see the fleece on its own!

Ah well, but if you are judging the sheep as a producer of fleece (and as the potential parent of other producers of fleece) then you need to see the wool on the sheep so you can judge both  :sheep:
 
Two relevant fleece considerations for shearing out of season are
1) staple length
2) soundness - in this case if, because of the timing of shearing, you are getting the rise halfway up the staple which makes for a virtually unspinnable fleece.
 
For staple length, some longwool breeds would have a better handspinning fleece if they were shorn twice a year (unless you are spinning warp threads), whereas shorter wooled sheep would end up with a too short fleece to spin easily if shorn twice, and many sheep have a perfect length of fleece if shorn at the correct time.
 
One year I was horrified to find that a well-known Scottish Jacob breeder was burning all their fleeces.  I asked if I could take some to spin and was duly given many sacksful.  Unfortunately they all had to go on the bonfire as they were made up of short clippings; not a whole fleece to be found.  That is one of the reasons that if I buy fleece now I make sure to do so from someone who has grown the fleece specifically as a crop, not a by-product.  But I asked for it so can't blame them  :dunce:
« Last Edit: November 29, 2012, 04:29:24 pm by Fleecewife »
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the the lifeblood of your land.

jaykay

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: "Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2012, 06:01:55 pm »
So the problem, as ever, is the showing business. Wanting things that aren't natural.

I don't like sheep being sheared early and I very strongly object to sheep being kept indoors to avoid them bleaching in the sun.

The answer is for the b$#$ judges to downgrade something that's clearly been sheared too early or not kept in a field, then the practice would stop.

Sorry to be  :rant: but the practice is self-perpetuating idiocy!

quiltycats

  • Joined Nov 2012
  • Ooop North
Re: "Unseasonal" shearing / fleeces / spinning / welfare
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2012, 06:16:33 pm »
Good judges, those who know their breed and know the tricks of the show ring very often see past all the faff of primping...no amount of cutting and combing will really disguise faults, a good animal is a good animal. You can enhance but that's all primping does really. 

My boys won 1st and 2nd in their class, against a lot of *proper showers*. Had there been no rise, they still wouldn't have been clipped when they were.

I can't see any point in housing sheep to avoid bleaching the tips tbh, after all, part of the primping process is trimming.....

 

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