Don’t Lose Your Wool!

(That title would be a lot better if English made sense and wool rhymed with cool.)

Last year when Barney was my only wool-type sheep, everyone I asked told me on no uncertain terms that Shetlands were always supposed to be sheared in February. It seemed early to me but I assumed the experienced shepherds knew best, and the first warm-ish day we had in February I went ahead and sheared Barney. And then it got cold again. I felt very guilty even though my hand shears won’t cut as closely as electric shears, so Barney still had a good bit of wool left.

In hindsight I think the people shearing in February probably do so because they want the ewes sheared before lambing. Shearing before lambing results in a nicer fleece (no lambing gunk in the wool), and it apparently encourages the ewes to spend more time under shelter while their lambs are small. Lambing isn’t really something that one has to worry about with a wether, so this year I’m going to let him keep his fleece a little longer.

Shetlands are a mixed bag in the wool department. Some have dual coats like Barney, and some have very fine single coats. Some roo, some don’t. Barney has never shown any signs of rooing, but Liam looks like his wool might be starting to rise. In February. While it’s still too cold for him to not have his fleece. I’ve tried to tug on some of the tufts to see if the wool is loose, but the minute I reach for him he scrambles away in a panic.


“Neo told me that if a human touches me I’ll get people-cooties! I don’t want people-cooties!”

I think Neo made that story up so that Liam wouldn’t (literally) horn in on his crunchies.

Liam’s father had a fine fleece and his mother was dual-coated, so I don’t know yet what his fleece will be like. He obviously doesn’t have the long, flowing guard layer that Barney has. (That’s Barney’s rear in the first picture. I wish my hair looked as good as Barney’s outer coat.)


Just from looking at his fleece on-the-hoof, I think he might have a thinner, curly outer layer unevenly distributed through the wool, but I won’t really know until I roo/shear him and can examine the fleece up close. Hopefully he’ll hold off on the shedding for a while yet, as I really don’t want to have a bald ram in February.

He definitely has a thick layer of hay unevenly distributed through his wool, as well. That I don’t have to guess about.

Neo got very miffed that I paid so much attention to Liam this morning. When I left he ran down to the gate, gave me a very grumpy look, and bounced off back to the Clubhouse in a huff.


6 thoughts on “Don’t Lose Your Wool!

  1. I don’t plan to start shearing till March, especially since we aren’t expecting lambs this spring so there is no rush. I haven’t noticed any roo-ing starting on any of Liam’s siblings yet but will let you know when/if they start.

    • He lost a few tufts of wool fighting with Duke through the fence, it’s possible these clumps were loosened then but didn’t start to fall off until now… I don’t know.

  2. My Black Welsh started shedding in Dec/January. I told them, ‘no’, ‘stop that’, ‘I mean it’, etc., but they haven’t listened a bit. Their fleeces are a mess, but we still have nights in the single digits, so I won’t be shearing anytime soon.

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