Learn Shearing, Hoof Trimming, and More in Sheep Skills Workshop

Andy Larson and James Theuri, U of I Extension Educators Local Foods Systems & Small Farms


Sheep owners need to be proficient in several hands-on skills to manage their animals humanely and efficiently, including basic handling, tagging, hoof trimming, and shearing. However, it is often useful to see these activities demonstrated in-person by an experienced teacher before tackling them oneself.
“I regularly get calls from newer sheep and lamb producers asking who in the area does hoof trimming or shearing,” says Andy Larson, Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator for University of Illinois Extension. “Unfortunately, it’s a short list of very busy people, and for small producers it often makes better financial sense to do it themselves.”
So, University of Illinois Extension is collaborating with The Wishing Oak Ranch in Big Rock to host a Sheep Shearing and Handling Skills Workshop, taught by Aimee Swenson, ASI-Certified shearer and Livestock Manager for MSU Student Organic Farm. The first half of the workshop will cover general care and handling of sheep, including nutrition, castration, docking, and tagging. The second half of the workshop will demonstrate animal handling, shearing styles, and fleece skirting, as well as discussing marketing options for sheep products.
“This is a great chance to work with a veteran instructor to improve your know-how on a wide variety of sheep topics, and even try your hand at a few of the skills,” adds James Theuri, also a Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator with Extension. “Bring your sheep questions, and be ready to get your hands dirty.”
The Sheep Shearing and Handling Skills Workshop will go from 9:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday, May 14 at The Wishing Oak Ranch, 49W161 Hinckley Rd, Big Rock, IL 60511. Wear clean chore clothes appropriate for the weather, closed-toe boots that are easily washed and sanitized, and bring your hoof trimmers if you have them. Please do not bring small children or animals, as this will be a participatory workshop on a working livestock farm.
Registration is $30 and should be completed online at http://go.illinois.edu/sheepshearing2016. The registration deadline is Wednesday, May 11th, but space is extremely limited so the workshop may fill up before then. Lunch and educational materials are included with your registration.
If you have questions, please contact Andy Larson at 815-732-2191 or James Theuri at 815-933-8337. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact your local Extension office.