Distress in shearing?

I’m not a judgemental, militant animal rights activist or anything, but I am curious about whether the animals are in any distress during the shearing process? I paged through a knitting magazine a few days ago, and there was an article of a family-run wool farm. A few pictures showed the shearing process, mothers giving birth to lambs, and one of a sheep suspended in straps (I think just being moved from here to there, so to speak). They didn’t look too pleased, and then I thought of other animals like bunnies, camels, alpacas and so on. I’m a real animal lover and was just wondering. Thanks for your help.:heart:

I doubt that sheep [I]love[/I] the shearing process. Nor any of the other animals that get sheared. But once they’re done, they’re done for the year.

However, if their coats were left on, they’d actually suffer. I have a friend with Alpacas who spit and carry on at shearing time, but would severely overheat if they kept their hair over the summer. Believe me, the people who have to shear them get the worst of the deal.:teehee:

Sheep are the same. If they’re not shorn, they overheat. There are some sheep whose wool never stops growing and eventually they would be too heavy to move (imagine!).

I [I]really, really[/I] hope that this topic doesn’t get people into an argument over farming practices. We are a [I]knitting[/I] community, not a farming practice community.


Maybe ten years ago, I went to the Marin Needle Arts Show on the Labor Day weekend. There was a spinning demonstration: a group with Angora rabbits were plucking the rabbits and spinning directly from the plucked fur.

The rabbits (two at a time) were on laps of two different women, sitting on towels and looking quite happy. You could almost hear them purring–if rabbits purred. The women plucked off handfuls of fur, but the bunnies never looked any smaller. It was weird. Then when 10 or 15 minutes had gone by, the rabbits were returned to their habitat and another rabbit put on the lap for plucking.

It was a very calm, happy scene. I’ve never forgotten it.

On a different note, I bathe my own dogs. Each dog reacts differently to being in the tub, but they all LOVE how they feel when they’re newly clean. “LOOK AT ME! I’M GORGEOUS!” and I walk them around the block. Their chests puff out a little more, their heads are held a little higher, their feet touch the ground a little more lightly.

Couldn’t it be the same for a newly shorn sheep? They might all react differently to the process of being shorn, but like the results?


Much seems to depend on the sheep and the shearer. One demonstration around here had a bunch of older ewes lined up on a very warm day, and as soon as they figured what was going on they were jostling for position! The shearer was very quick and neat about it, and it was really funny to see the formerly dignified old ladies bounce out into the sun and roll around like lambs. (They were pets, so they ran up to everyone looking on for petting. Freshly sheared sheep feel like good carpeting.)

Thanks yall for your information! I feel so much better now, really.:hug:
Ingrid, I apologize for introducing the topic. I realize this is a knitting community and not a farming practice community, but I was just curious and when I posed the question I thought it was an okay one for a knitting community. I’m a beginner and I myself use yarns with wool, alpaca, and one with angora, so my intention was not to be judgemental and open a can of worms, so to speak, but I was just wondering is all.
I’m happy to have learned some interesting tidbits about the whole process. Thank you:heart:

I was pleased that you posed the question the way you did. There are others in the world that zoom in on animal treatment and always find negative things to say. Some procedures done with certain types of sheep are unpleasant, but it hasn’t to do with shearing. It has to do with keeping flies from nesting in the skin of the lambs, but until the farmers can find a more economical, kinder way to do this, it’s necessary to keep the lambs alive long enough to shear them. Farm live ain’t easy, I guess.:shrug: