Jobs in the Shearing Shed
If you followed along earlier this month you would have gotten a glimpse inside a shearing shed and seen all the action that takes place, but if not come along and check it out!
Most farmers will shear their mob at the same time every year.
Professional shearing teams travel across Australia, some shearers even travel from overseas to join teams.
This has created some difficulties in the industry since the Covid outbreak as shearing teams were left stranded in one region with work required in another, but thankfully the shearing went on!
Within a shearing team there are a number of different roles. The amount of sheep that need to be shorn determines how many people are required in each position and often the farmer himself will help out in some roles, so lets start from the beginning of the process.
Farmer: the farmer (and don’t forget his barking sidekicks) will bring the sheep in to the yards from the paddocks the afternoon before the shearers arrive. This is not only because the shearer’s usually start nice and early but it allows the sheep to poop and empty their stomachs (without refilling them with feed,) so that they are more comfortable when being handled by shearers.
The shed hand or Presser: The presser is responsible for keeping the pens inside the shearing shed full of sheep, moving them from outside yards inside and ready for the shearers.
The shearers: Each shearer sets up at a stand in the shed. They each have their own pen full of sheep to work through and set up with a stand and handpiece. Most shearers can take roughly 3-4 minutes per sheep, working through about 140 sheep each per day. First they shear the sheep’s bellies and then the wool from the sheep’s body comes off as one fleece.
The Wool handlers or Roust Abouts: The wool handlers gather the shorn fleeces and throw them over a large table to be skirted. They are responsible for keeping the floor clean of wool.
The Wool Classer: The wool classer first skirts the fleece. Skirting is removing any inferior pieces from the main fleece. They then sort the wool into five main groups. The fleeces, the necks, the pieces, the bellies and the locks. Each of these groups will be baled separately.
Once classed the wool is placed into nylon bags and pressed, sealed and branded to make bales.
The farmers brand the bales with a unique brand that identifies the property the wool has come from and also the wool group.
Once the sheep has been shorn it is sent down a race and back to an outside yard where the farmer will often spray the sheep’s back with a lice treatment
(this is called back lining.)
Then they are taken back to the paddock.
The shearing shed works on runs of about 2 hours, so about 4 runs each day. While it is hot, dirty work you will often find beats blaring from the shearing shed and a relaxed feel amongst the teams.
It is pretty cool to see a shearing shed in full swing, it really does take team work! It's also the first stage in the creation of Lana Vello garments and getting this natural, renewable resource off the sheeps back and onto our shelves!
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