Montana State University

Sheep shearing school to run March 14-20

January 7, 2008 -- From the MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
BOZEMAN -- A school to address Montana's sheep shearer shortage will be held March 14-20 at the Red Bluff Research Ranch near Norris.

The Montana Wool Harvesting and Sheep Shearing School will include a three-day course for beginners and another for more experienced shearers. The beginners course will run from March14-16, and the advanced course from March 17-20. Each course costs $125 per person, but the cost of attending both is $200. The school is offered by Montana State University Extension and the Montana Sheep Institute.

Jim Moore, MSU Sheep Institute Extension Agent, and Mike Schuldt, Blaine County Extension Agent, will teach the courses with assistance from the MSU Wool Lab staff. They will teach participants how to shear their own flocks or start a sheep shearing business. They will teach them the latest techniques in sheep shearing and share the knowledge they gained while attending a recent training course in New Zealand.

The advanced classes requires previous shearing experience and instructor approval. Those who have taken the beginner class in the past can check for instructor approval before registering for the advanced class by calling Peggy Kelley at (406) 994-3415. Beginners in the upcoming school can also advance with instructor approval. Beginners should plan to attend every day of the course, since it is taught in a progressive manner.

Brent Roeder, research associate in MSU's Department of Animal and Range Sciences, has taken both courses.

"They teach you little tricks here and there that enable you to pick up a few more sheep in a day's work of shearing," he said.

Even though he grew up shearing sheep in Texas, Roeder said the shearers who taught the classes helped him develop a faster shearing system.

"Keeping equipment well maintained and positioning the sheep a certain way can save time," Roeder said. "Sometimes, it's only a half inch that makes a difference."

Instructors said shearing is hard work that requires strength and conditioning. Those planning to attend the upcoming classes will need to prepare themselves by stretching and doing exercises prior to the school.

Wool producers who don't want to shear or are physically unable to do so may consider sponsoring someone from their area to attend the school, the instructors said. High school students, as well as older Montanans, are encouraged to take the course. A letter documenting participation will be provided if needed.

Enrollment fees pay for instructors, maintenance on shearing machines, course materials and some meals. Early registration is highly recommended since space fills rapidly. Enrollment in each class is limited to 18 participants on a first-come, first-enrolled basis.

For more information, call Peggy Kelley at (406) 994-3415 or email her at

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or