Shearer

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Shearing Shed Hand
Wool Presser


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Practical or MechanicalNature or RecreationSkill Level 1Skill Level 2

 

Shearers take the sheep from the pen and hold firmly while removing the fleece all in one piece. They select combs that are appropriate for the type of sheep and wool. If necessary they may treat skin cuts on the sheep. They then return the sheep to the pens. They also maintain their cutters and combs Future Growth Strong by cleaning and sharpening them. They may also be required to shear stud animals with special combs or cutters.

The person who removes the sheep's wool is called a shearer.

Typically each adult sheep is shorn once each year (a sheep may be said to have been "shorn" or "sheared", depending upon dialect).

The annual shearing most often occurs in a shearing shed, a facility especially designed to process often hundreds and sometimes more than 3,000 sheep per day. (Source: Wikipedia)

ANZSCO description:  Removes wool and hair from sheep, goats, alpacas and other animals.

Shearing Shed near Crookwell NSW
Old Shearing Shed near Crookwell, NSW

Shearers harvest wool from sheep using power-driven handpieces that are fitted with combs and cutters.

Knowledge, skills and attributes

A Shearer needs:

  • to be physically fit
  • to be able to work quickly and consistently with their hands
  • to be able to work confidently with sheep
  • good hand-eye coordination
  • to be willing to work and live in the country
  • to be able to work as part of a team.

Duties and Tasks

Shearers may perform the following tasks:

  • take sheep from catching pens and hold firmly while shearing fleece in one piece
  • select shearing combs to suit the type of sheep and wool
  • ensure the wool is harvested with the least possible stress on the sheep and in accordance with strict animal welfare guidelines
  • return shorn sheep to let-out pens for counting and checking
  • shear stud animals with hand shears or special combs
  • clean and sharpen combs and cutters - may service, maintain and repair shearing equipment
  • identify sheep with specific characteristics, such as black spots, as requested by the wool classer.
  • catching and positioning animals for shearing
  • shearing and removing wool and hair from animals
  • identifying contaminated fibre and injured, infected and diseased animals
  • treating skin cuts
  • returning shorn animals to let-out pens for counting and checking

 

Working conditions

Expedition shearers work in a team and may be responsible to an overseer or shearing contractor. These shearers travel long distances from property to property to work. Others may work within their own district and travel daily to the shearing shed, returning to their own homes each day.

Accommodation is usually provided in shearers' quarters either on the property or in a nearby town. Shearers supply their own work clothes, combs and cutters.

The work is not as seasonal as it used to be, with work most of the year. The peak seasons are Spring and Autumn. The working day begins at 7:30am and consists of four two hour runs with two 30 minute breaks and one hour for lunch. The shearing is usually done in a tin shed in the country and conditions are usually hot, dirty and dusty.

Tools and technologies

Shearers need to be proficient with power-driven hand pieces that are fitted with combs and cutters. They often own these hand pieces and so need to know how to maintain them.

Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a shearer without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. Some shearers begin by being a shed hand in a shearing team. Entry into this occupation may be improved if you have a formal qualification in shearing.

The Certificate II and Certificate III in Shearing are offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can also complete a traineeship. The shearer and shearer (professional level) traineeships usually take six to nine months to complete.


Fleece of sheep

Shearing Shed Hand
Environments

Practical or MechanicalNature or RecreationSkill Level 1

Shearing shed hands assist wool classers and shearers by performing routine duties in shearing sheds and handling the fleeces after they have been shorn from the sheep. Future Growth Decline

Wool Handlers regulate the flow of sheep to be shorn, keep the shearing shed clean and tidy, and assist with wool clip preparation.

Also called Wool Handlers.

Specialisations: With experience and sometimes further training, it is possible to become a shearer or a wool classer.

Duties and Tasks

Shearing shed hands may perform the following tasks:

  • assist station hands to pen sheep for shearing

  • pick up the fleece after it is removed from the sheep and throw it onto a large table for 'skirting' (process to remove stained or coloured pieces and skin from the wool)

  • remove inferior and stained wool from fleeces as directed by a wool classer

  • grade wool that has been skirted off fleeces

  • roll the fleece into bundles and pass it to a wool classer for classing

  • sweep the shed floor around the shearing and wool handling areas

  • to help keep the fleeces clean and to avoid contamination

  • identify and remove belly wool from the shearing area and place in relevant packs.

 

Shorn sheep

Working conditions

Shearing shed hands may need to travel long distances from property to property to work. Accommodation is usually provided in shearers' quarters either on the property or in a nearby town. Some work within their own district and travel daily to the shearing shed, returning to their own homes each day.

Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a Wool Handler without formal qualifications. Some on the job training may be provided. A course in wool handling might be helpful.

 

Wool Presser
Environments

Practical or MechanicalNature or RecreationSkill Level 1

A wool presser transfers the fleeces and other wool types into wool presses to form solid bales. They weigh the bales; brand the completed wool bale with the farm brand, a description of the wool, the wool classer's stencil and a bale number; and keep records of all bales completed.



Knowledge, skills and attributes

  • able to work quickly for long periods

  • able to work as part of a team

  • willing to travel and live in remote areas

  • able to undertake manual work

  • able to cope with the physical demands of the job.

Shearer

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