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How and When to Shear Your Goats

If you're raising goats to harvest the fiber for your own use or to sell, you need to know the basics of shearing. Not all goats have the same requirements. For example, you need to shear Angora goats twice a year to get the most fiber. You don't shear cashmere- or cashgora-producing goats; instead you comb or pluck the fiber once a year.

You need to shear your mohair-producing goats in the early spring and early fall. Make sure not to shear cashmere-producing goats because you will lower the value and quality of the fiber by mixing coarser guard hair with the fine, valuable cashmere.

Shearing isn't hard to do, but it's hard on your back because you have to bend over. If you have only a few goats you can use scissors or hand shears. If you can afford it and want to do all the shearing yourself, you can also invest in electric sheep shears, which range from $300 and up. Otherwise, you're better off hiring a professional shearer to come to your farm.

To prepare your goats for shearing:

  • A few weeks prior to shearing, use a pour-on insecticide containing permethrin or pyrethrin to kill lice and ticks.

  • If the weather is rainy or snowy, keep your goats confined for 24 hours before shearing so that they stay dry.

  • Clean and add new bedding to a dry shelter to keep the goats out of inclement weather for a month or so after they have been shorn. They're more prone to health problems without their protective coats.

Start your shearing with the youngest goats and work in order of age because the youngest usually have the best fiber.

When you're shearing a goat, always use long, smooth strokes. Doing so keeps the fleece in longer pieces, which makes it easier to work with and increases its value. Be careful not to cut the skin, taking special care on the belly, the area where the legs and body meet, the scrotum, and the teats. If you do accidentally cut a goat while shearing, treat it with an antibiotic spray such as Blu-Kote.

Before you shear, get the following supplies together:

  • Blow dryer

  • Sheep shears

  • Grooming stand or stanchion

  • Scissors

  • Paper bags, pillowcases, or baskets to hold the fiber

  • Postal or hanging scale for weighing fiber

Follow these steps to shear a goat:

  1. Secure your goat on the stanchion or grooming stand.

  2. Blow any hay or other debris out of the goat's coat.

    Use your blow dryer on high speed.

  3. Shear the goat's belly.

    Start at the bottom of its chest and move to its udder or scrotal area.

  4. Shear each side.

    Work from the belly up to the spine, back leg to front leg.

  5. Shear each back leg.

    Work from the beginning of the coat upward to the spine.

  6. Shear the neck.

    Start at the bottom of the throat and work to the top of the chest on the bottom and from the chest to the ears on the top and sides.

  7. Shear the top of the back.

    Work from the crown of the head to the tail.

  8. Remove any excess hair that you missed with your scissors.

    One area often missed is in the area of the udder or testicles.

  9. Release your goat.

  10. Check the fiber.

    Separate any stained or soiled fleece or other contaminants. Weigh the unsoiled fleece, roll it up, put it in a paper bag, and mark the bag with the weight of the fleece, the goat's name and age, and the date sheared. Store fleece in a dry area.

  11. Sweep the area.

    Make sure the next goat to be sheared starts with a clean area.

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