Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shearing Cattle for Summer

Temperatures are getting warmer, and the cattle can not get rid of that winter coat fast enough. Especially down here in Texas. We shear almost all of our cattle in mid-spring for many reasons. The cows are sheared to get that winter coat off, and keep them cooler in the hot springtime days, and scorching Texas summers. The show calves are sheared to remove the dead, brown hair, and start over with a brand new coat. Lastly, any spring and summer born babies are sheared to keep them cooler, and remove the brown coat that many of the black calves are born with. My example in this blog will be the shearing of a young show heifer, but the technique is the same for all cattle.

When beginning to shear, I determine which clipper I am going to use by what my purpose of shearing is.  If I am shearing cows for the summer, I typically use sheephead clippers.  If I am taking the winter hair off a show heifer, I use my flathead clippers.  Reguardless of which type of clipper I am using, I clip with the lay of the hair.
Flat Head Clipper
Sheep Head Clipper
Now that I have my clippers picked out, I get the animal in the chute, blow the dirt out thoroughly, and make sure all the hair is dry.  This will prevent your blades from dulling to quickly.  Starting at the hind quarter, I make long strokes straight down, all the way to the hock.  Do not shear the legs.  The hair is left of the legs to give protection from flies, and this hair does not shed like the body hair, so it will give you a little head start to your fall hair growth.  Continue to work forward on the body with long downward strokes until you reach the ears.   I do not shear lower than a line from the flank and the bottom of the brisket.

After the body is sheared, then I take the clippers and shave the tail, head, and neck against the grain of the hair.  Also shave the hair on the brisket between the front legs.  For show cattle, do not shave the top of the tail head.  You want to keep all of this hair you can for grooming in the fall and winter season.
Feel free to contact me if you have questions on any part of this process.  It is very simple, but I know it can be a little intimidating for an amateur.