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Montana State Sheep Shearing School attracts large turnout

Photo by Bill BrewsterStudents had the opportunity to get plenty of practice during the school.

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To fill a need for experienced sheep shearers in the region, Montana State University (MSU) Extension and the Animal and Range Science Department recently held a two-level sheep shearing school at the Red Bluff Research Ranch. Students attended from a number of states, including Montana, Idaho, Colorado, California and Canada.

The 18 students in the beginning class, held March 12-14, learned a broad range of skills that are essential for men and women to shear farm- and ranch-owned flocks in an efficient manner.

The advanced course, with six students held March 15-17, was designed for experienced shearers to obtain the latest techniques in the shearing business. Jim Moore, Montana Sheep Institute extension specialist, and Mike Schuldt, Blaine County MSU extension agent, shared information they learned while attending a shearing instructor’s class in New Zealand.



“Recognizing the shortage of trained skilled sheep shearers in the region has led us to develop this two-level sharing school,” explained Rodney Kott, extension sheep specialist. “We also recognize the need for instruction to assist those shearers currently working in the area. The goal is to improve their skill and knowledge allowing them to harvest the wool and clip in a manner that provides the grower with the most value.”

Kott said more smaller flocks in the state seem to be appearing, while bands of large flocks have decreased. With the market price for lamb strong, there is an increased interest in the sheep industry.



Jack McRae, the executive secretary of the Montana Wool Growers Association, said there are currently about 800 members in the organization – a number that has grown annually the past few years. Montana’s sheep inventory is currently less than 300,000; years ago in its heyday, Montana boasted the largest sheep population in the country.

There are more than three dozen listed sheep shearers scattered across the state.

Along with Schuldt, Moore and Kott, and Lisa Surber of the Montana Sheep Institute, other experienced instructors at the event included: Brent Roeder, a research associate in MSU Animal and Range Science Department; Wade Kopren of Bison, SD, a commercial shearer who works in North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming; and Ralph McWilliams of Miles City, MT. Sean Miller, a livestock consultant from Mount Gambier in Australia, also provided input and monitored the class.

Roeder, who grew up shearing sheep in Texas, had taken both the beginner and advanced courses. He said the experienced shearers who taught the course helped him develop a faster hearing system. “Keeping equipment well maintained and positioning the sheep a certain way can save time,” he noted. “Sometimes it’s only a half inch that makes a difference.”

Because shearing requires physical strength and conditioning, the instructors outlined a list of stretching and strength-building exercises to help shearers maintain the proper conditioning to handle the hard shearing work.

The several hundred page course outline, produced in conjunction with the American Sheep Institute and the American Wool Growers Association, covered topics that included: sheep handling techniques and facilities; shearing techniques; wool quality improvement; grinding and sharpening terminology and techniques; and alternatives and specialty shearing.

Along with practicing on sheep from the MSU flock, the beginning course included an overview of wool handling that touched on throwing, skirting and rolling a fleece, wool preparation for packaging, and the American Sheep Institute certification programs.

Other topics included tagging, crutching and eying, and the selection of comb types and correct sharpening and care of tools.

Students in the advance course learned by watching a shearing demonstration by Schuldt and Moore on “Shearing with Style.” On the second day, techniques were detailed to help the advanced students to develop their own rhythm and pace. The shearing practice was videotaped for evaluation. Other techniques taught included work on patterns and footwork.

The advanced course also included facilities and grower instructions for both shearers and wool handlers and classing and skirting procedures.

To fill a need for experienced sheep shearers in the region, Montana State University (MSU) Extension and the Animal and Range Science Department recently held a two-level sheep shearing school at the Red Bluff Research Ranch. Students attended from a number of states, including Montana, Idaho, Colorado, California and Canada.

The 18 students in the beginning class, held March 12-14, learned a broad range of skills that are essential for men and women to shear farm- and ranch-owned flocks in an efficient manner.

The advanced course, with six students held March 15-17, was designed for experienced shearers to obtain the latest techniques in the shearing business. Jim Moore, Montana Sheep Institute extension specialist, and Mike Schuldt, Blaine County MSU extension agent, shared information they learned while attending a shearing instructor’s class in New Zealand.

“Recognizing the shortage of trained skilled sheep shearers in the region has led us to develop this two-level sharing school,” explained Rodney Kott, extension sheep specialist. “We also recognize the need for instruction to assist those shearers currently working in the area. The goal is to improve their skill and knowledge allowing them to harvest the wool and clip in a manner that provides the grower with the most value.”

Kott said more smaller flocks in the state seem to be appearing, while bands of large flocks have decreased. With the market price for lamb strong, there is an increased interest in the sheep industry.

Jack McRae, the executive secretary of the Montana Wool Growers Association, said there are currently about 800 members in the organization – a number that has grown annually the past few years. Montana’s sheep inventory is currently less than 300,000; years ago in its heyday, Montana boasted the largest sheep population in the country.

There are more than three dozen listed sheep shearers scattered across the state.

Along with Schuldt, Moore and Kott, and Lisa Surber of the Montana Sheep Institute, other experienced instructors at the event included: Brent Roeder, a research associate in MSU Animal and Range Science Department; Wade Kopren of Bison, SD, a commercial shearer who works in North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming; and Ralph McWilliams of Miles City, MT. Sean Miller, a livestock consultant from Mount Gambier in Australia, also provided input and monitored the class.

Roeder, who grew up shearing sheep in Texas, had taken both the beginner and advanced courses. He said the experienced shearers who taught the course helped him develop a faster hearing system. “Keeping equipment well maintained and positioning the sheep a certain way can save time,” he noted. “Sometimes it’s only a half inch that makes a difference.”

Because shearing requires physical strength and conditioning, the instructors outlined a list of stretching and strength-building exercises to help shearers maintain the proper conditioning to handle the hard shearing work.

The several hundred page course outline, produced in conjunction with the American Sheep Institute and the American Wool Growers Association, covered topics that included: sheep handling techniques and facilities; shearing techniques; wool quality improvement; grinding and sharpening terminology and techniques; and alternatives and specialty shearing.

Along with practicing on sheep from the MSU flock, the beginning course included an overview of wool handling that touched on throwing, skirting and rolling a fleece, wool preparation for packaging, and the American Sheep Institute certification programs.

Other topics included tagging, crutching and eying, and the selection of comb types and correct sharpening and care of tools.

Students in the advance course learned by watching a shearing demonstration by Schuldt and Moore on “Shearing with Style.” On the second day, techniques were detailed to help the advanced students to develop their own rhythm and pace. The shearing practice was videotaped for evaluation. Other techniques taught included work on patterns and footwork.

The advanced course also included facilities and grower instructions for both shearers and wool handlers and classing and skirting procedures.

To fill a need for experienced sheep shearers in the region, Montana State University (MSU) Extension and the Animal and Range Science Department recently held a two-level sheep shearing school at the Red Bluff Research Ranch. Students attended from a number of states, including Montana, Idaho, Colorado, California and Canada.

The 18 students in the beginning class, held March 12-14, learned a broad range of skills that are essential for men and women to shear farm- and ranch-owned flocks in an efficient manner.

The advanced course, with six students held March 15-17, was designed for experienced shearers to obtain the latest techniques in the shearing business. Jim Moore, Montana Sheep Institute extension specialist, and Mike Schuldt, Blaine County MSU extension agent, shared information they learned while attending a shearing instructor’s class in New Zealand.

“Recognizing the shortage of trained skilled sheep shearers in the region has led us to develop this two-level sharing school,” explained Rodney Kott, extension sheep specialist. “We also recognize the need for instruction to assist those shearers currently working in the area. The goal is to improve their skill and knowledge allowing them to harvest the wool and clip in a manner that provides the grower with the most value.”

Kott said more smaller flocks in the state seem to be appearing, while bands of large flocks have decreased. With the market price for lamb strong, there is an increased interest in the sheep industry.

Jack McRae, the executive secretary of the Montana Wool Growers Association, said there are currently about 800 members in the organization – a number that has grown annually the past few years. Montana’s sheep inventory is currently less than 300,000; years ago in its heyday, Montana boasted the largest sheep population in the country.

There are more than three dozen listed sheep shearers scattered across the state.

Along with Schuldt, Moore and Kott, and Lisa Surber of the Montana Sheep Institute, other experienced instructors at the event included: Brent Roeder, a research associate in MSU Animal and Range Science Department; Wade Kopren of Bison, SD, a commercial shearer who works in North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming; and Ralph McWilliams of Miles City, MT. Sean Miller, a livestock consultant from Mount Gambier in Australia, also provided input and monitored the class.

Roeder, who grew up shearing sheep in Texas, had taken both the beginner and advanced courses. He said the experienced shearers who taught the course helped him develop a faster hearing system. “Keeping equipment well maintained and positioning the sheep a certain way can save time,” he noted. “Sometimes it’s only a half inch that makes a difference.”

Because shearing requires physical strength and conditioning, the instructors outlined a list of stretching and strength-building exercises to help shearers maintain the proper conditioning to handle the hard shearing work.

The several hundred page course outline, produced in conjunction with the American Sheep Institute and the American Wool Growers Association, covered topics that included: sheep handling techniques and facilities; shearing techniques; wool quality improvement; grinding and sharpening terminology and techniques; and alternatives and specialty shearing.

Along with practicing on sheep from the MSU flock, the beginning course included an overview of wool handling that touched on throwing, skirting and rolling a fleece, wool preparation for packaging, and the American Sheep Institute certification programs.

Other topics included tagging, crutching and eying, and the selection of comb types and correct sharpening and care of tools.

Students in the advance course learned by watching a shearing demonstration by Schuldt and Moore on “Shearing with Style.” On the second day, techniques were detailed to help the advanced students to develop their own rhythm and pace. The shearing practice was videotaped for evaluation. Other techniques taught included work on patterns and footwork.

The advanced course also included facilities and grower instructions for both shearers and wool handlers and classing and skirting procedures.

To fill a need for experienced sheep shearers in the region, Montana State University (MSU) Extension and the Animal and Range Science Department recently held a two-level sheep shearing school at the Red Bluff Research Ranch. Students attended from a number of states, including Montana, Idaho, Colorado, California and Canada.

The 18 students in the beginning class, held March 12-14, learned a broad range of skills that are essential for men and women to shear farm- and ranch-owned flocks in an efficient manner.

The advanced course, with six students held March 15-17, was designed for experienced shearers to obtain the latest techniques in the shearing business. Jim Moore, Montana Sheep Institute extension specialist, and Mike Schuldt, Blaine County MSU extension agent, shared information they learned while attending a shearing instructor’s class in New Zealand.

“Recognizing the shortage of trained skilled sheep shearers in the region has led us to develop this two-level sharing school,” explained Rodney Kott, extension sheep specialist. “We also recognize the need for instruction to assist those shearers currently working in the area. The goal is to improve their skill and knowledge allowing them to harvest the wool and clip in a manner that provides the grower with the most value.”

Kott said more smaller flocks in the state seem to be appearing, while bands of large flocks have decreased. With the market price for lamb strong, there is an increased interest in the sheep industry.

Jack McRae, the executive secretary of the Montana Wool Growers Association, said there are currently about 800 members in the organization – a number that has grown annually the past few years. Montana’s sheep inventory is currently less than 300,000; years ago in its heyday, Montana boasted the largest sheep population in the country.

There are more than three dozen listed sheep shearers scattered across the state.

Along with Schuldt, Moore and Kott, and Lisa Surber of the Montana Sheep Institute, other experienced instructors at the event included: Brent Roeder, a research associate in MSU Animal and Range Science Department; Wade Kopren of Bison, SD, a commercial shearer who works in North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming; and Ralph McWilliams of Miles City, MT. Sean Miller, a livestock consultant from Mount Gambier in Australia, also provided input and monitored the class.

Roeder, who grew up shearing sheep in Texas, had taken both the beginner and advanced courses. He said the experienced shearers who taught the course helped him develop a faster hearing system. “Keeping equipment well maintained and positioning the sheep a certain way can save time,” he noted. “Sometimes it’s only a half inch that makes a difference.”

Because shearing requires physical strength and conditioning, the instructors outlined a list of stretching and strength-building exercises to help shearers maintain the proper conditioning to handle the hard shearing work.

The several hundred page course outline, produced in conjunction with the American Sheep Institute and the American Wool Growers Association, covered topics that included: sheep handling techniques and facilities; shearing techniques; wool quality improvement; grinding and sharpening terminology and techniques; and alternatives and specialty shearing.

Along with practicing on sheep from the MSU flock, the beginning course included an overview of wool handling that touched on throwing, skirting and rolling a fleece, wool preparation for packaging, and the American Sheep Institute certification programs.

Other topics included tagging, crutching and eying, and the selection of comb types and correct sharpening and care of tools.

Students in the advance course learned by watching a shearing demonstration by Schuldt and Moore on “Shearing with Style.” On the second day, techniques were detailed to help the advanced students to develop their own rhythm and pace. The shearing practice was videotaped for evaluation. Other techniques taught included work on patterns and footwork.

The advanced course also included facilities and grower instructions for both shearers and wool handlers and classing and skirting procedures.

To fill a need for experienced sheep shearers in the region, Montana State University (MSU) Extension and the Animal and Range Science Department recently held a two-level sheep shearing school at the Red Bluff Research Ranch. Students attended from a number of states, including Montana, Idaho, Colorado, California and Canada.

The 18 students in the beginning class, held March 12-14, learned a broad range of skills that are essential for men and women to shear farm- and ranch-owned flocks in an efficient manner.

The advanced course, with six students held March 15-17, was designed for experienced shearers to obtain the latest techniques in the shearing business. Jim Moore, Montana Sheep Institute extension specialist, and Mike Schuldt, Blaine County MSU extension agent, shared information they learned while attending a shearing instructor’s class in New Zealand.

“Recognizing the shortage of trained skilled sheep shearers in the region has led us to develop this two-level sharing school,” explained Rodney Kott, extension sheep specialist. “We also recognize the need for instruction to assist those shearers currently working in the area. The goal is to improve their skill and knowledge allowing them to harvest the wool and clip in a manner that provides the grower with the most value.”

Kott said more smaller flocks in the state seem to be appearing, while bands of large flocks have decreased. With the market price for lamb strong, there is an increased interest in the sheep industry.

Jack McRae, the executive secretary of the Montana Wool Growers Association, said there are currently about 800 members in the organization – a number that has grown annually the past few years. Montana’s sheep inventory is currently less than 300,000; years ago in its heyday, Montana boasted the largest sheep population in the country.

There are more than three dozen listed sheep shearers scattered across the state.

Along with Schuldt, Moore and Kott, and Lisa Surber of the Montana Sheep Institute, other experienced instructors at the event included: Brent Roeder, a research associate in MSU Animal and Range Science Department; Wade Kopren of Bison, SD, a commercial shearer who works in North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming; and Ralph McWilliams of Miles City, MT. Sean Miller, a livestock consultant from Mount Gambier in Australia, also provided input and monitored the class.

Roeder, who grew up shearing sheep in Texas, had taken both the beginner and advanced courses. He said the experienced shearers who taught the course helped him develop a faster hearing system. “Keeping equipment well maintained and positioning the sheep a certain way can save time,” he noted. “Sometimes it’s only a half inch that makes a difference.”

Because shearing requires physical strength and conditioning, the instructors outlined a list of stretching and strength-building exercises to help shearers maintain the proper conditioning to handle the hard shearing work.

The several hundred page course outline, produced in conjunction with the American Sheep Institute and the American Wool Growers Association, covered topics that included: sheep handling techniques and facilities; shearing techniques; wool quality improvement; grinding and sharpening terminology and techniques; and alternatives and specialty shearing.

Along with practicing on sheep from the MSU flock, the beginning course included an overview of wool handling that touched on throwing, skirting and rolling a fleece, wool preparation for packaging, and the American Sheep Institute certification programs.

Other topics included tagging, crutching and eying, and the selection of comb types and correct sharpening and care of tools.

Students in the advance course learned by watching a shearing demonstration by Schuldt and Moore on “Shearing with Style.” On the second day, techniques were detailed to help the advanced students to develop their own rhythm and pace. The shearing practice was videotaped for evaluation. Other techniques taught included work on patterns and footwork.

The advanced course also included facilities and grower instructions for both shearers and wool handlers and classing and skirting procedures.

To fill a need for experienced sheep shearers in the region, Montana State University (MSU) Extension and the Animal and Range Science Department recently held a two-level sheep shearing school at the Red Bluff Research Ranch. Students attended from a number of states, including Montana, Idaho, Colorado, California and Canada.

The 18 students in the beginning class, held March 12-14, learned a broad range of skills that are essential for men and women to shear farm- and ranch-owned flocks in an efficient manner.

The advanced course, with six students held March 15-17, was designed for experienced shearers to obtain the latest techniques in the shearing business. Jim Moore, Montana Sheep Institute extension specialist, and Mike Schuldt, Blaine County MSU extension agent, shared information they learned while attending a shearing instructor’s class in New Zealand.

“Recognizing the shortage of trained skilled sheep shearers in the region has led us to develop this two-level sharing school,” explained Rodney Kott, extension sheep specialist. “We also recognize the need for instruction to assist those shearers currently working in the area. The goal is to improve their skill and knowledge allowing them to harvest the wool and clip in a manner that provides the grower with the most value.”

Kott said more smaller flocks in the state seem to be appearing, while bands of large flocks have decreased. With the market price for lamb strong, there is an increased interest in the sheep industry.

Jack McRae, the executive secretary of the Montana Wool Growers Association, said there are currently about 800 members in the organization – a number that has grown annually the past few years. Montana’s sheep inventory is currently less than 300,000; years ago in its heyday, Montana boasted the largest sheep population in the country.

There are more than three dozen listed sheep shearers scattered across the state.

Along with Schuldt, Moore and Kott, and Lisa Surber of the Montana Sheep Institute, other experienced instructors at the event included: Brent Roeder, a research associate in MSU Animal and Range Science Department; Wade Kopren of Bison, SD, a commercial shearer who works in North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming; and Ralph McWilliams of Miles City, MT. Sean Miller, a livestock consultant from Mount Gambier in Australia, also provided input and monitored the class.

Roeder, who grew up shearing sheep in Texas, had taken both the beginner and advanced courses. He said the experienced shearers who taught the course helped him develop a faster hearing system. “Keeping equipment well maintained and positioning the sheep a certain way can save time,” he noted. “Sometimes it’s only a half inch that makes a difference.”

Because shearing requires physical strength and conditioning, the instructors outlined a list of stretching and strength-building exercises to help shearers maintain the proper conditioning to handle the hard shearing work.

The several hundred page course outline, produced in conjunction with the American Sheep Institute and the American Wool Growers Association, covered topics that included: sheep handling techniques and facilities; shearing techniques; wool quality improvement; grinding and sharpening terminology and techniques; and alternatives and specialty shearing.

Along with practicing on sheep from the MSU flock, the beginning course included an overview of wool handling that touched on throwing, skirting and rolling a fleece, wool preparation for packaging, and the American Sheep Institute certification programs.

Other topics included tagging, crutching and eying, and the selection of comb types and correct sharpening and care of tools.

Students in the advance course learned by watching a shearing demonstration by Schuldt and Moore on “Shearing with Style.” On the second day, techniques were detailed to help the advanced students to develop their own rhythm and pace. The shearing practice was videotaped for evaluation. Other techniques taught included work on patterns and footwork.

The advanced course also included facilities and grower instructions for both shearers and wool handlers and classing and skirting procedures.

To fill a need for experienced sheep shearers in the region, Montana State University (MSU) Extension and the Animal and Range Science Department recently held a two-level sheep shearing school at the Red Bluff Research Ranch. Students attended from a number of states, including Montana, Idaho, Colorado, California and Canada.

The 18 students in the beginning class, held March 12-14, learned a broad range of skills that are essential for men and women to shear farm- and ranch-owned flocks in an efficient manner.

The advanced course, with six students held March 15-17, was designed for experienced shearers to obtain the latest techniques in the shearing business. Jim Moore, Montana Sheep Institute extension specialist, and Mike Schuldt, Blaine County MSU extension agent, shared information they learned while attending a shearing instructor’s class in New Zealand.

“Recognizing the shortage of trained skilled sheep shearers in the region has led us to develop this two-level sharing school,” explained Rodney Kott, extension sheep specialist. “We also recognize the need for instruction to assist those shearers currently working in the area. The goal is to improve their skill and knowledge allowing them to harvest the wool and clip in a manner that provides the grower with the most value.”

Kott said more smaller flocks in the state seem to be appearing, while bands of large flocks have decreased. With the market price for lamb strong, there is an increased interest in the sheep industry.

Jack McRae, the executive secretary of the Montana Wool Growers Association, said there are currently about 800 members in the organization – a number that has grown annually the past few years. Montana’s sheep inventory is currently less than 300,000; years ago in its heyday, Montana boasted the largest sheep population in the country.

There are more than three dozen listed sheep shearers scattered across the state.

Along with Schuldt, Moore and Kott, and Lisa Surber of the Montana Sheep Institute, other experienced instructors at the event included: Brent Roeder, a research associate in MSU Animal and Range Science Department; Wade Kopren of Bison, SD, a commercial shearer who works in North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming; and Ralph McWilliams of Miles City, MT. Sean Miller, a livestock consultant from Mount Gambier in Australia, also provided input and monitored the class.

Roeder, who grew up shearing sheep in Texas, had taken both the beginner and advanced courses. He said the experienced shearers who taught the course helped him develop a faster hearing system. “Keeping equipment well maintained and positioning the sheep a certain way can save time,” he noted. “Sometimes it’s only a half inch that makes a difference.”

Because shearing requires physical strength and conditioning, the instructors outlined a list of stretching and strength-building exercises to help shearers maintain the proper conditioning to handle the hard shearing work.

The several hundred page course outline, produced in conjunction with the American Sheep Institute and the American Wool Growers Association, covered topics that included: sheep handling techniques and facilities; shearing techniques; wool quality improvement; grinding and sharpening terminology and techniques; and alternatives and specialty shearing.

Along with practicing on sheep from the MSU flock, the beginning course included an overview of wool handling that touched on throwing, skirting and rolling a fleece, wool preparation for packaging, and the American Sheep Institute certification programs.

Other topics included tagging, crutching and eying, and the selection of comb types and correct sharpening and care of tools.

Students in the advance course learned by watching a shearing demonstration by Schuldt and Moore on “Shearing with Style.” On the second day, techniques were detailed to help the advanced students to develop their own rhythm and pace. The shearing practice was videotaped for evaluation. Other techniques taught included work on patterns and footwork.

The advanced course also included facilities and grower instructions for both shearers and wool handlers and classing and skirting procedures.

To fill a need for experienced sheep shearers in the region, Montana State University (MSU) Extension and the Animal and Range Science Department recently held a two-level sheep shearing school at the Red Bluff Research Ranch. Students attended from a number of states, including Montana, Idaho, Colorado, California and Canada.

The 18 students in the beginning class, held March 12-14, learned a broad range of skills that are essential for men and women to shear farm- and ranch-owned flocks in an efficient manner.

The advanced course, with six students held March 15-17, was designed for experienced shearers to obtain the latest techniques in the shearing business. Jim Moore, Montana Sheep Institute extension specialist, and Mike Schuldt, Blaine County MSU extension agent, shared information they learned while attending a shearing instructor’s class in New Zealand.

“Recognizing the shortage of trained skilled sheep shearers in the region has led us to develop this two-level sharing school,” explained Rodney Kott, extension sheep specialist. “We also recognize the need for instruction to assist those shearers currently working in the area. The goal is to improve their skill and knowledge allowing them to harvest the wool and clip in a manner that provides the grower with the most value.”

Kott said more smaller flocks in the state seem to be appearing, while bands of large flocks have decreased. With the market price for lamb strong, there is an increased interest in the sheep industry.

Jack McRae, the executive secretary of the Montana Wool Growers Association, said there are currently about 800 members in the organization – a number that has grown annually the past few years. Montana’s sheep inventory is currently less than 300,000; years ago in its heyday, Montana boasted the largest sheep population in the country.

There are more than three dozen listed sheep shearers scattered across the state.

Along with Schuldt, Moore and Kott, and Lisa Surber of the Montana Sheep Institute, other experienced instructors at the event included: Brent Roeder, a research associate in MSU Animal and Range Science Department; Wade Kopren of Bison, SD, a commercial shearer who works in North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming; and Ralph McWilliams of Miles City, MT. Sean Miller, a livestock consultant from Mount Gambier in Australia, also provided input and monitored the class.

Roeder, who grew up shearing sheep in Texas, had taken both the beginner and advanced courses. He said the experienced shearers who taught the course helped him develop a faster hearing system. “Keeping equipment well maintained and positioning the sheep a certain way can save time,” he noted. “Sometimes it’s only a half inch that makes a difference.”

Because shearing requires physical strength and conditioning, the instructors outlined a list of stretching and strength-building exercises to help shearers maintain the proper conditioning to handle the hard shearing work.

The several hundred page course outline, produced in conjunction with the American Sheep Institute and the American Wool Growers Association, covered topics that included: sheep handling techniques and facilities; shearing techniques; wool quality improvement; grinding and sharpening terminology and techniques; and alternatives and specialty shearing.

Along with practicing on sheep from the MSU flock, the beginning course included an overview of wool handling that touched on throwing, skirting and rolling a fleece, wool preparation for packaging, and the American Sheep Institute certification programs.

Other topics included tagging, crutching and eying, and the selection of comb types and correct sharpening and care of tools.

Students in the advance course learned by watching a shearing demonstration by Schuldt and Moore on “Shearing with Style.” On the second day, techniques were detailed to help the advanced students to develop their own rhythm and pace. The shearing practice was videotaped for evaluation. Other techniques taught included work on patterns and footwork.

The advanced course also included facilities and grower instructions for both shearers and wool handlers and classing and skirting procedures.


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