The shearing season takes place at different times in different locations around the world. Shearing is a key part of caring for sheep. If it is not done, the fleece will become overgrown. It is a simple process and, like a haircut, the wool begins to grow right back. This is what makes wool a renewable resource. There is a lot of misinformation about shearing so the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) highlights the process used in two countries that produce a lot of wool: South Africa and Uruguay.
How Sheep Shearing Works
Shearing is the process of removing the fleece. It may be done by hand or with electric shears by highly skilled operators. The fleece is the main wool covering the sheep’s body. Wool from the belly, legs and face of the sheep is also shorn.
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Shearing Practices in Uruguay
Secretariado Uruguayo de la Lana (SUL) is the authority that provides training and other resources for the Uruguayan wool industry. Uruguay’s sheep farms perform their shearing during the southern hemisphere’s winter and spring. SUL-trained shearers perform the shearing using a method called Tally Hi. This method is convenient for both sheep and shearers.workers . It is performed with the sheep untied, minimizing stress for the animals. Correct positioning and a particular set of actions are essential for this method, minimising stress for the sheep and making the job easier for the shearer. Bales of wool that are shorn by SUL professionals bear the institution’s green or yellow labels, indicating that it is free of contaminants and produced according to the approved method . All in all, Uruguay produces about 24 million kilos, of mainly fine and mid micrón wool.
Wool Shearing in South Africa
Cape Wools SA regulates the standards and practices used in South Africa’s wool industry. According to Cape Wools, shearing takes place in South Africa about three times in a two-year cycle. About 4000 workers are employed to harvest the national clip of about 50 million kilograms. The welfare of the sheep is always carefully considered. Skilled, trained shearers ensure the correct application of the shearing process, while also monitoring the quality and integrity of the clip. Shearing teams move from one farm to another, spending roughly one week at each farm. A wool classer and handler works alongside the shearers, sorting the wool into different categories of quality and thickness/fineness.
With the use of a national shearing management system and app, farmers can provide feedback and ratings on the shearers and the work they do. In turn, shearers can also rate the facilities they find on the farms where they work.
Learn More About Wool and All Its Uses and Benefits
Shearing is just the start of the journey that wool makes from the farm to a finished product. This video on wool production takes you through early processing, carding, combing and more. Follow our news page to learn more about renewable, sustainable wool.
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