This past weekend was our fall shearing day. I have been looking forward to seeing all my summer fleeces; they look so much better after being outside on pasture all summer than coming out of being in the barn all winter. I was not disappointed!
We sheared all 38 sheep, including yearlings and lambs that did not get sheared in the spring. This means I have over 15 fleeces with 10"+ staple length, and most were stunning! I have decided to not shear my lambs until the fall, and let yearlings go a year after their first shearing to better evaluate the fleece genetics in my flock. It has definitely been useful to see which sheep are able to grow a year of fleeces that remain open and beautiful, without matting. The ewes that are able to grow a dense, lustrous and open fleece will be the ones I keep for breeding.
It was not only my long stapled fleeces that I was excited about, but my "normal" fleeces with 6 months of growth. Many of my ewes had fleeces that were 6" or longer since just May! Even Colin (my shearer) commented on the staple length this shearing. The only change we have made is grazing on the new pasture that we seeded last fall. This pasture has a very high percentage of white clover, which adds more protein to the diet than a regular grass pasture, which could've contributed to better fleece growth throughout the spring and summer. Since I started grazing my ewes on pasture with no access to the barn, my fleece quality has improved so much- they have clean, open locks that make skirting a dream! There is no straw, and the dew/rain washes out any dirt.
I have lots of orders to start filling, so let the skirting begin!
Emmaline Long, main owner of Orchard View Farm, has a passion for Lincoln sheep and loves educating others about her breed and farm, She currently serves as the Vice President of the National Lincoln Breeders Association.
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