how to shear sheep with hand shears

How To Shear A Sheep With Hand Shears? (Practical Guide!)

Spread the love

Electric shears may have rendered hand shears a bit old-fashioned, but they remain useful tools to sheep farmers since they come in handy in areas without electricity and generate more wool. However, hand shearing a sheep isn’t painless and needs skill, so learn how to shear a sheep with hand shears in this post.

To shear your sheep properly with hand shears, you need shears of the right size with easily adjustable blades. Also, clean the shearing area, position your sheep well (ensure they are comfortable) and start shearing from the belly.

This post walks you through every step for shearing sheep using hand shears and what to consider when buying hand shears.

how to shear sheep with hand shears

Step-By-Step Guide for Shearing Sheep with Hand Shears

Besides harvesting wool for commercial purposes, shearing protects your sheep from overheating, infections, and pests. Therefore, a farmer with sheep should strive to possess this skill.

Nearly all sheep breeds need to be sheared at least once every year because failure to do so leads to welfare and health problems. However, shearing sheep yourself is easier and more economical, especially if you have a small farm.

Here is a detailed guide on how to shear sheep with hand shears.

Get the Needed Equipment

Having the right shearing equipment before shearing your sheep is essential. A high-quality hand shear will make the entire process safer for everyone involved and even more enjoyable for you.

Before beginning, ensure the shears are sharp since dull shears are hard to use and cause pain to your sheep.

Besides a hand shear, you will also need a shear apron, dustpan, broom to clean the area, and garbage bags to keep soiled wool. You will also need old towels if you have young sheep because they tend to urinate during shearing.

Prepare the Shearing Area

You cannot shear your sheep anywhere; the area needs to be clean and confined to allow you to control the sheep effortlessly.

In addition, make sure there’s no water nearby or the ground dump to avoid getting the wool wet or dirty.

Ensure the area is also spacious and protected from the wind.

READ ALSO: What To Do With Raw Wool? (7 Best Uses You Didn’t Know!)

Gather The Sheep

Round up and gather your sheep into a pen. Ensure the sheep don’t get wet or and don’t feed them for a day.

This will help to reduce their discomfort when you roll them on their backs to shear. Additionally, it minimizes waste production, thus keeping the shearing area clean.

If possible, group the sheep, keeping any rams, ewes, yearlings, and lambs separate. Moreover, you can sort them according to grade or breed.

Put the Sheep in a Comfortable Position

Remove the sheep from the pen and direct them to the shearing area. First, position the sheep so the belly is exposed with their legs in the air.

Then prop the shoulders between your knees to provide support. Additionally, ensure the sheep is comfortable to keep them from struggling during shearing.

Shear the Belly

Starting the shearing process with the belly is the best approach because this area has the dirtiest and least valuable wool.

Shear with your right hand and tighten the sheep’s skin with your left if you are right-handed; the opposite is true for left-handed individuals.

Make sure you have confident and long shearing strokes to ensure all the fleece comes off in one piece.

Shearing sheep with hand shears

Shear the Legs and Crotch

After shearing the belly, the next step is to remove the crotch and hind legs’ wool. To do this, place the sheep between your knees, bring the hand shear up to the sheep’s right leg, and then move it to get rid of the wool on the crotch.

You may likely have to repeat this step to make sure you remove all the wool. After that, run the hand shear down the right leg’s interior.


When shearing a ewe, you must cover her teats with your non-dominant hand to avoid accidentally hurting or shaving the teats off.

Shear The Tail And Left Hind Legs

Change your position by about 90 degrees, exposing the sheep’s left side with the right foreleg between your legs and your right knee in front of the sheep’s brisket.

Next, shear the left hind leg, beginning at the toe then, proceeding to the hind quarters then ending at the backbone’s near side.

Reposition yourself to easily access the sheep’s tail by moving back your right leg a couple of inches, then shear the tail wool.

Additionally, you can shear the fleece’s topknot from the head of the sheep, if necessary, since this position gives you access to the head of the sheep.

Shear the Chin, Neck, and Chest

Have your left foot at the sheep’s spine base and the right foot between the sheep’s hind legs. Then hold its body steadily between your knees. Next, grab below the sheep’s chin with your left hand, then stretch its head backward.

Work the hand shears from the sheep’s brisket towards its neck, stopping just below the chin.

Make parallel, long blows along the neck’s left side, ending beneath the eye and the ear, ensuring you hold the ear back to avoid nicking it.

Shear the Left Shoulder

Shift your weight and sheep a bit to access the left shoulder, and begin shearing from the left knee and then up to the left shoulder. You should also clear any wool left in the left foreleg’s interior.

Shear the Sheep’s Back

With your sheep lying on its right side, your right foot in between its hind legs and the left foot beneath the shoulder, shear the wool along the back of the sheep.

Shear the Sheep’s Right Side

This is the final position, which involves swinging around your left leg, putting you in an upright position with the nose of the sheep between your knees. With the position achieved, shear along the sheep’s shoulders, neck, and head.

Ensure you hold the wrinkly skin using your free hand to make the work easier and avoid hurting the sheep. Don’t forget to remove the wool on the right foreleg.

Shear the Hindquarter and Right Leg

Move your right leg slightly forward to reach and put your right hand on the right flank of the sheep, then apply pressure firmly.

This will force the sheep to straighten its right leg and stretch the skin. Next, shear the sheep’s right leg and hindquarters.

Skirt and Roll The Fleece

Once you finish shearing your sheep, you must remove dirty, matted, or colored wool to make it marketable if you plan to sell it.

First, skirt the wool by spreading it on a flat surface with the flesh side down. This helps to remove any contaminated or dirty wool from the fleece’s outside edges.

You will find dirty wool, mostly from the sheep’s rear end, legs, and belly. Roll the fleece after removing the dirty wool.

To achieve a neat package for easy transportation, fold the fleece’s long sides towards the center and roll it from one end to another, so the flesh side faces outwards.

How Long Does It Take To Shear A Sheep With Hand Shears?

For a professional shearer, it takes 1 to 5 minutes to shear a sheep. However, a beginner may take half an hour or more. A sheep will be able to remain calm for a few minutes when a professional is shearing them, but it may be harder for them to cooperate for much longer when a novice is shearing them.

Factors To Consider When Buying A Hand Shear

You need a high-quality hand shear, and to ensure you get that, you must consider some things.

a) Easily Adjustable Blades

The blades must be easy to adjust to lower blade tension. While tight blades are great for removing heavy wool, excessively tight blades make shearing challenging. The best hand shears can be tightened or loosened effortlessly.

b) Size

Get shears that are big enough to hold and carry around, and ensure they aren’t too heavy, as that will make shearing uncomfortable.

Moreover, it needs to be light, rendering it portable hence you can easily carry it from one area to another.

c) Affordable

Hand shears come in different brands, so you are spoilt for choice. For this reason, you don’t have to spend much money on this equipment when you can get a high-quality one at an affordable price.

Decide if a hand shear is worth its price by checking if it makes shearing easy or if it’s manufactured using stainless steel.

In addition, compare the prices different brands offer before making a decision.

Final Remarks

It will take a lot of practice before mastering how to shear a sheep with hand shears. Therefore, don’t feel disheartened if you don’t get it right the first time or even the second. Instead, keep practicing to perfect your skills and make the experience comfortable for your sheep.


Dorset Sheep Breed: Information, Behavior, and Care

Babydoll Sheep Breed: Information, Behavior, and Care

3 Signs of Dead Lamb in Ewe (Early Signs to Know!)

Do Dorper Sheep Have Horns? (Are They Sharp?)

Spread the love