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Urban Farm Magazine

Comments On - How to Shear Sheep


this women has no idea at all , this is pure cruelty and people who wish to shear their own sheep should take no notice of this women at all . the sheep is stressed to the max . where is the rspca ????
guy, International
Posted: 5/28/2014 12:44:31 AM
That poor sheep is stressing out like crazy. And the woman is pulling the wool off in bits - I've never seen such a mess made of fiber. Why on earth would hobby farms make this an example of "how to shear a sheep"? It should be titled "Everything you should NEVER do when shearing a sheep."
Pete, Charlotte, NC
Posted: 3/2/2014 12:11:55 PM
Umm that is bad advise on shearing a sheep for both animal and shearer-invite me over too show you the way--kiwi Steve
Steve, International
Posted: 1/13/2014 6:01:04 PM
I guess that is one way to shear a sheep. As an experienced sheep shearer I can shear that sheep in a couple minutes with no nicks, fewer second cuts, and wayyyy less stressful on the sheep. Unless she likes to shear sheep she would be much better off and the sheep will be much better off if she could find a good shearer (some are not worth a penny) to do the job right. You can look on youtube and see sheep sheared properly with much less stress.
Anthony, Sterling, UT
Posted: 3/19/2013 8:24:44 AM
Are you kidding? Why would you post a video of someone who obviously has never even taken a class in shearing. She isn't handling the sheep well or safely. The animal is stressing out. She isn't using any sort of accepted pattern. We are supposed to be impressed because she's a female? Sorry, there are lots of great female shearers who know what they are doing. This woman does not.
Betty, Des Moines, IA
Posted: 1/4/2013 8:25:39 PM
I have raised sheep for over 25 years, and early on I attended a shearing school sponsored by Oster clippers. I learned that I don't want to shear sheep! We lived in Wyo for many years, and had a ready supply of trained shearers. Moved to MI and the supply dried up. Watching a trained New Zealand shearer is a fascinating experience. As a spinner, my only concern is second cuts. I don't care how it comes off, as long as there are no second cuts to deal with. If Natalie has a system that works for her and she ends up with wonderful fleeces more power to her! I get tremendously annoyed with ignorant comments from people who think "throwing" a sheep down and holding it down - by whatever means- is cruel. They have never had to deal with a sheep who doesn't want to be sheared and weighs 250 pounds! They should see some of the other things shepherds have to deal with - like lambing when a lamb is stuck or not properly presented. Aiding those ewes is extremely stressful for both ewe and shepherdess. What would those crybabies suggest as an alternative? Caring for livestock is not a job for the faint hearted, and those inexperienced bleeding hearts think it should be all light and flowers. Those of us who keep livestock love them and do not want to see any animal cruelly treated, but long term commitment to keeping animals entails some situations which are stressful and painful and it is the shepherdess who has to deal with them. Natalie would not be as successful as she is if she were treating her animals badly. Don't criticize until you've done the job!
Diana, Lawrence, MI
Posted: 2/17/2012 6:11:57 AM
Just spent some time at Namaste Farms on Saturday and acquired one of the most beautiful fleeces which Natalie had just sheared from a gorgeous Gotland sheep - just exquisite. One thing I really love about her fleeces is the fact that are virtually no second cuts and it just makes them a joy to wash and spin. This is my favorite wool and mohair supplier!
Janice Rosema, Hemet, CA
Posted: 12/6/2011 8:14:39 AM
Catty...!!! Natalie has a MASTER'S in animal science...think that tops any ole shearing school...try to realize not everything has to be done YOUR way...
Debbie, Kirkland, IL
Posted: 12/5/2011 3:05:44 PM
Thank you all so much for being so kind to me. Many people are threatened by ways of shearing they've never seen, that said, they've never seen a 120 lb woman shear a 280 lb sheep. The style I use is actual VERY old and can be seen on some lithographs from the 1800's. I appreciate the support of my friends. Bless you.
Natalie, temecula, CA
Posted: 12/5/2011 12:58:56 PM
I am not a shearer, but I do know a bit about shearing and each animals needs its own special attention. I have attended a number of shearing demonstrations and watched all sorts of different breeds beings shoren and for each breed there is a little different way that the fleece will come off of the sheep. Fine wools come off in one big piece where you can actually see the sheep in the fleece when thrown while long wools tend to come off in pieces. Just because the fleece comes off in pieces doesn't mean there is anything wrong with it it simply means that the wool isn't as compacted on the sheep.

You can tell she cares a great deal about her flock and that she has found the best way for herself to shear her sheep. I have had the chance to try some of Natalie's fleece and it is outstanding.
Lydia, Harvey, ND
Posted: 10/29/2011 6:11:40 PM
I came here to see my friend Nat's video and I have to confess that I am really lost as to all of the comments about how poorly the sheep in the video is being treated. I am also very saddened by some of the really cheap shots taken at Natalie Redding! Particularly the one about her being a celebrity and that is why people buy her wool! I personally have wool from her and it is nothing short of exquisite! It is the most expensive wool I have ever bought, but it is positively the most incredible wool I have ever owned! It is a dream to work with! I would have been interested too in wool from Lisa, but now I believe this "fool" will spend her $$ elsewhere! Shame on you for such an
un-Christian attitude!
Monica, Oatman, AZ
Posted: 10/29/2011 6:10:51 PM
I am sadly surprised at all the negative commentary on a video that gives me as a non shepherdess a very good idea of how shearing is done. Since there are many ways to do shearing, I suggest that all of the people who are so critical provide us with their videos to make a visual comparison. Perhaps they didn't bother to take the time to produce videos to inform the public how this is accomplished. I saw Natalie straddle the animals neck to subdue her, not sit on it. I wish I could at least believe all the concern for her safety that was mentioned, but it seemed foolish, insincere, and mean spirited. I am a spinner who buys fleeces from Natalie regularly. I have bought some from other places, and am almost always sorry. I buy by the pound, and they are skirted already, so having them come off in pieces instead of whole seems irrelevant to me. The quality is always consistent and excellent, and she treats her flock like family. I for one appreciate her video and information, and willingness to share with the public. I found all this criticism petty and downright nasty.
Nancy, Port Jefferson, NY
Posted: 10/28/2011 7:55:25 PM
Jealousy is a funny thing. Natalie's fleece are beyond beautiful and clean. You can tell that she cares for her animals because of the quality. She is successful, so what? Get over your jealousy bumps and be proud that a woman is able to rise above.
Jen, Cleveland, OH
Posted: 10/28/2011 6:56:17 PM
I don't personally know Natalie and I've never bought her fleece BUT... I'm a 92 lb female and I've shorn alpacas for the last 9 years. If you think that sheep was upset you should see an alpaca being taken down and shorn. I've shorn on shearing tables and on the ground... either way I need help. It doesn't make a difference to the animal which method you use. The idea is to get the fleece off (in one piece or not) the animal as safely as possible. We remove the fleece to keep the animal from having heat stress and to process your crop of fiber. If you've never shorn sheep, goats, or alpacas, go on out to a farm near you and join in the "fun". I'd welcome anyone that feels they can do a better, more humane job, faster, with a fleece intact, and without hurting themselves or the animals. Put your big girl panties on and come one over on shearing day!
Dawn, Axton, VA
Posted: 10/28/2011 6:35:07 PM
In response to all critical comments, I have to say that when you buy fibers from Natalie you buy the best. Her animals produce the best. She selects the best parts of the fleece for what we are paying for. The fleece was not in one piece but that is not important in this case as we are not purchasing fiber for the mill, we are purchasing fibers for specialty spinning, and all the fiber she sells is prime. She is one of the most sucessful fleece sellers and when she shears and sells a fleece, it is gone in a matter or minutes and you consider yourself lucky to snag a pound or less. Sure there are other ways to shear sheep but as she is shearing her own she can shear anyway she wants, or anyway that works for her.
Amanda, Leavenworth, KS
Posted: 10/28/2011 4:57:51 PM
I am not a shepherdess; nor do I have any training/background in animal husbandry so I cannot comment on the shearing process. That said, I have purchased quite a bit of fiber in its many forms since late 2006, when I first started spinning, from a variety of sellers. Over the years I have learned more about fleeces and while hesitant, also about how to process raw wool. I was hesitant at first because she sells her fleeces raw, but what I have bought from her have all been very easy to process, and I am extremely pleased with the quality compared to most I have purchased in the past. As a spinner, I do not desire a fleece in one piece. Buying in smaller quantities is perfect for my needs. If I was not happy with her product, or if I suspected she didn't care for her animals, I would not be a customer.
Naomi, Los Angeles, CA
Posted: 10/28/2011 2:11:04 PM
Being a frequent visitor and witness to the care and treatment of Natalie's animals, I have to say that she does a safe and effective job of shearing her animals. The negative comments made by some appear to be based on very little information and seem emotional rather than fact-based to me. Natalie has Master's in Animal Sciences and is well-versed in proper care. Additionally, the quality and cleanliness of her fleeces are outstanding and I would never hesitate to support her as a shepherdess of high standards.
Janice Rosema, Hemet, CA
Posted: 10/28/2011 12:49:55 PM
In reading the comments I am reminded of a situation that just happened to me. My neighbor's child needed stitches in her forehead and at the hospital it was necessary to restrain her in order to put the stitches in. She was placed in a papoose (really a straight jacket) and the job was completed. Natalie is simply putting the animal in the position needed to complete the task. If she didn't shear, the animal would be very uncomfortable..... and in the hot climate could be dangerous.

Natalie's fleeces are amongst the most beautiful longwools in the industry, she skirts as she shears and longwool fleeces don't come off in one piece unless they are coated and I believe I heard she doesn't coat them.

For hand spinners, longwools are often used for tailspinning the lock (in which case the fleece is torn apart by the spinner) and keeping the fleece intact is not necessary.

I am saddened that most of the negative comments I have read are by women.... if you feel this isn't the way you would shear, why do you feel you have to bash someone who is already a minority in the industry? Wouldn't those women who have dealt with prejudice in a male dominated industry want to support another shepherd and if you don't agree, simply move on without the nasty personal attacks? Are we still in highschool?

Play nicely ladies... please.
Kimberly, Scotch Plains, NJ
Posted: 10/28/2011 12:10:32 PM
One of the people who replied said that the fleece was ruined. I am assuming you are saying that because it didn't come off in one piece. That was a longwool sheep that she was shearing. The fleece comes off in pieces just like with an angora goat. It won't come off in one piece. I am a spinner(which is why I have my animals) and some of the fleeces I send off to be processed and some I do here on the ranch. I have had some done by big men who come in and flip the animal around and the fleece comes off in one piece. The only way this helps is on the skirting table. Otherwise it doesn't do anything for you. The first thing that happens to your fleece when you send it off is it goes through a picker to get out vegetable matter. After that, your fleece is no longer in one piece. After that they wash it then it is carded into batts or roving. The integrity of the fleece as an entire 'piece' doesn't matter at all. The only place I can see it mattering would be in skirting… and you take care of that as you go.
Sarah, Mountain Home, AR
Posted: 10/28/2011 12:01:38 PM
I am not a shepherd and so have no comment about the way the sheep is shorn. However I am a customer of Namaste Farms and I have no complaints about the fleece I have purchased from her. In fact they are among the nicest fleeces I have ever used!!
Stephanie, Htattsville, MD
Posted: 10/28/2011 11:51:36 AM
I am a female shepherd and use the same technique that Natalie does. Sitting in the area of their neck doesn't stress them out. You don't actually put much pressure on the animal (although it might look like it in the video)they just have to believe that you can. I don't worry about getting the fleece off in one piece because it isn't necessary. I actually sort mine as I shear based on area of the animal and what I can use it for (like the neck is softer than the britch). I appreciate her video because not everyone has a shearing stand and not everyone has the 'muscle' to shear the way you see on the large scale operations. I, physically can't do what the professionals do but my sheep and goats need to be sheared. After shearing my sheep don't run off or cower... they just take it in stride. I am a kind shepherd and my sheep and goats are sheared in the same way.
Amy, Dora, MO
Posted: 10/28/2011 11:32:37 AM
I am shocked at the mean spirited nature of some of these comments. I have 2 degrees in Animal Science and have a successful business. You should be ashamed to criticize something which most of you HAVE NEVER HAD TO DO. I shear about 1000 a year without the help of men. I am seriously disgusted at the ignorance and nasty comments. Come to my house, let me show you what hard work is. You may have different opinions.
Natalie, Temecula, CA
Posted: 10/28/2011 10:58:35 AM
I can understand maybe her doing it her way but wow! I don't have any experience and I could not see ever shearing my sheep in the position she uses. My understanding was we were supposed to have improved the way sheep are sheered that looked like an old movie I saw from the 50's in my FFA class. First throwing the sheep! Come on! Try not to stress them as you sit on their neck! Legs flying! Her body mechanics with the blades coming towards herself. That Ewe was struggling. It made me sick.

So glad I looked at the other comments. Plus the FLEECE was ruined. I can't believe people who buy from her have ever bought a good fleece before so they think she has good fleece. Maybe the wool is great but the cut is bad. I would never buy it in pieces like that!

Please don't use this video anymore it will just lead to an accident. Sorry but oh my.
Diane, Sugarloaf, CA
Posted: 8/10/2011 4:39:07 AM
I appreciate Natalie's brave attempts at showing us how She shears her sheep. I went to a sheep shearing school in Shenandoah Valley where we learned an excellent sheep handling technique, where we cradled the sheep between our knees and on our feet to keep them under control. We also never let their feet touch the ground, keeping a foot under the shoulder of the sheep. The belly and leg wool were scrapped, but the fleece should come off in one complete piece. I have to agree with the previous post, were I purchasing a fleece, it should be in one piece, well skirted (trash and tags cut off) and no second cuts. She obviously is making a living at it with that many sheep and angora goats, but her shearing technique has its flaws. Please post a better example.
Paula, Cleveland, TN
Posted: 7/4/2011 3:11:18 PM
By all means be kind to your animals learn the proper technique. Natalie should buy a stand, it would stress the sheep less and be easier on her. She also needs to learn how to lay a sheep down, I have seen young kids do it better than her. Also lose the jewelery when shearing or handling, its just an accident waiting to happen and the animals don't care how cute you look with it on.
Karri, Morgan, UT
Posted: 5/16/2011 12:00:18 PM
would be much better experience if audio was available
dennis, bellmore, NY
Posted: 4/11/2011 7:28:29 AM
I have Icelandic sheep and the shearing is not pulling it apart like that. The belly is crap but the part that is kept is like it's own blanket that is shaken off and used. You don't pull it apart like that. She gets her money because she is a celebrity and draws in people who will spend that much on a fleece when they can get beautiful fleece somewhere else for less. Quality is not the factor in the case regarding the costs of her fleece but the common sense of the buyer. A fool and his money are soon parted. I would fire her if she sheared my sheep like that.
Lisa Whytock, Bonners Ferry, CA
Posted: 4/8/2011 6:52:28 AM
We have been shearing our sheep for about 5 years now. We groom them at least 4 times per year. We always use a stand. This keeps the sheep safe, and can bring the fleece off in almost one piece. I have seen those who shear a large number of sheep, and they do not do it like this. The sheep here could have hurt her with it's legs moving like they did. She obviously has a good relationship with her sheep. That being said, she didn't panic and she was confident, she did not cut the sheep and she got the job done. That is a successful shearing job. Her ewe was really pretty too.
Julie, Winter Springs, FL
Posted: 4/8/2011 2:53:33 AM
I agree with most of the comments about how this is NOT the way to shear sheep. I went to sheep shearing school and learned the New Zealand shearing pattern. I am a 50 year old woman and I shear my Shetlands. I am not fast, but I am careful and the sheep is comfortable. I do about 3 a day-but I do it safely. One should never put their leg on a sheep's neck. And the legs were flying all over the place-she is lucky the sheep was not cut. And she was stepping all over the fleece and pulling it off in parts-not good for the hand spinner. Hobby Farms-you need to do your research before showing this video as a "safe" way to shear.
Kat, Cumberland, VA
Posted: 4/7/2011 5:50:28 PM
I totally agree with the other commentators - there are easier ways to do this. She obviously has a great rapport with her animals, which works in her favour. As a home wool processor, I cringe at the way she removes the fleece. It should come off in one blanket so you can see the different parts of the fleece later on.
Anna-Maria, Hemmingford, QC
Posted: 4/7/2011 4:43:00 AM
I definitely admire her for doing this as a solo woman. That being said, she would definitely benefit from going to a shearing school. The way she did this, from handling the animal to moving her own body, was dangerous. There are tried and true, and above all, far safer, ways to shear. It was panic inducing to watch this, from the point of view of someone who has been shearing for years and has seen some horrific accidents as people did things like this. It would be of huge benefit for her and her animals for her to check out a reputable sheep shearing school.
Danielle, Baltimore, MD
Posted: 4/6/2011 6:05:07 PM
Oh dear. As a long time one woman sheep operation myself, I just had to cringe at this video. Her "technique" is not safe at all, as a previous commenter explained. She is very lucky she has not had a serious accident, as she ages, she will also find she has done a diservice to her body, as well. At the very least, she needs to work on her technique of "throwing" the sheep, lest she gets one that really hurts her in the struggle. These are heavy animals.
Her handling of the fleece, pulling it off in elongated tufts is not ideal for the handspinner, either. But everyone has their own way, I guess.
My technique is also not traditional, but is much safer for a one woman operation and easier on the sheep. I prefer to put the sheep in a low, sturdy goat milking stanchion and sheer them with good quality blunt pointed sewing scissors. With practice, you can remove the fleece suprisingly quickly and efficiently, avoid second cuts, injury to yourself and the animal, and better preserve the integrity of the fleece.
I do wish her continued good luck.
Catherine, Nashville, TN
Posted: 4/6/2011 3:12:49 PM
Alot of work for one gal. That's willpower!!
Jessica, Weaverville, NC
Posted: 1/1/2011 5:06:50 PM
I guess it's good that she's trying, but Natalie should go to a shearing school to learn a tried and true technique that won't stress the sheep and be safe for her. She put herself in dangerous situations by not using pressure points to inhibit the sheep's leg movements, by shearing toward her own femoral artery and by having all those bangles dangling on her wrist. This isn't the way shearing should be done.
Kathryn, Sisters, OR
Posted: 12/23/2010 6:54:57 PM
I have never sheared a sheep, however, I have shots many real estate videos....I totally disagree that this isn't realistic....there is just so much you can show in 6 minutes and I felt Natalie did a fantastic job, as well as the camera person. I only wish I was there in person to learn from her!
Debbie, Jackson, MO
Posted: 12/16/2010 12:52:26 PM
A fun job - but 160 WOW - I shear 19 every year and it just about does me in! You go girl! I've just adopted 4 Alpacas - that should be interesting shearing this spring!
Trudy, Live Oak, CA
Posted: 12/16/2010 12:51:23 PM
this definitely takes longer than the 6 minutes of video..and i know of several woman shearers... not particularly realistic.
michele, scranton, PA
Posted: 12/15/2010 8:20:17 AM
Well done! Natalie has some of the best fleeces around, beautiful fibers! She is a delight and very informative and sharing concerning her animals and spinning!
Janice, Hemet, CA
Posted: 11/30/2010 7:50:35 PM
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