Learning the process of hands-on sheep shearing may not be wild, but it is unquestionably wooly.
Shearing sheep is a physical process, but leverage and technique are more important than strength. Students of all ages can learn—one member of the current class is just 13, and women can shear as well as men, says UC Extension Livestock Advisor John Harper. But it does take the full five days of intensive work to begin to master the task.
Done properly, Harper adds, the shearing process is not a hardship for the sheep, and can be completed quite quickly.
While selling the wool can be a welcome source of income for the sheep rancher, at least when the markets are stronger than they have been the past couple of years, regular shearing is also important for the health of the animals, adds shearing instructor Mike McWilliams.