Shearing is a one-of-a-kind seasonal human-sheep contact. This act makes it possible for people to wear, knit, and sleep on wool and fine fibers. Shearing, on the other hand, can be baffling, if not terrifying, to individuals who are not involved in agriculture.
Shearing before lambing benefits the sheep’s health while also simplifying management and increasing flock productivity. However, there are a few things to keep in mind while using this procedure. These are mostly concerned with birth timing, stubble length and feeding, and post-shearing protection.
When lambing begins in mid-March, early shearing improves lamb health and reduces ailments such as a watery mouth. There are various reasons why shearing using Shearing cutters before lambing is recommended. Here are some of the reasons below.
Easier to Feed the Lambs
Lambs can get to the teat more easily. Lambs that can quickly identify the teat have a greater chance of survival. A thick fleece restricts access to the udder, making it difficult for a wet infant to find. It is also not uncommon to see lambs sucking on wool tags rather than teats from fully fleeced ewes. Shearing reduces this barrier, making entrance easier.
Shorn ewes take up less room in the feed bunk, allowing more flock members to have greater feed access. This allows for a more effective feeding schedule and eliminates the bunk access limitation that is frequent in smaller ewes. It also promotes better feed intake in late pregnancy, when intake is often a limiting factor in lamb development.
Wool may also include dirt, excrement, and fluids from the birthing process, all of which can serve as a breeding ground for infections. A short fleece alleviates this issue, resulting in a healthier environment for both the ewe and her child.
Bad Weather Protection
Ewes seek cover in bad weather. Shorn ewes are significantly more likely to seek out a more protected and less exposed birthplace since it is instinctual for them to do so in order to maximize their comfort. As a result, early life loss due to hypothermia/starvation is significantly minimized.
In terms of health and nutrition, ewes are more active and easier to monitor. When the ewes are shorn, it is much easier to examine their bodily condition and predict when they will lamb. Shorn ewes are also more active than full-fleeced ewes, which may enhance the health of the mother in late pregnancy. Sheared ewes are also less likely to become cast or stuck on their backs during the lambing season.
The Dry Environment
Wool absorbs a lot of water, and a full fleece may absorb a lot of water even when sheep are kept indoors in humid conditions. Wool’s propensity to retain moisture creates a damp microclimate surrounding the lamb, making it an ideal environment for viruses to proliferate. When ewes are shorn, the relative humidity in the barn and the microclimate around the lamb both decrease, resulting in a healthier environment that is less hospitable to dangerous germs.
Shearing before lambing enhances lamb survival and flock productivity while also improving fleece quality. Shearing must be done in cold weather to provide for adequate stubble and recovery time after shearing to protect against cold exposure. Knowing these causes will help the health of your flock.