How do Wild Sheep Shear themselves?

Do Sheep Shear naturally? What is Self Shearing Sheep? How do Wild Sheep Shear themselves? What happens to Wild Sheep that don’t get Sheared? How did Sheep survive without Humans Shearing them?

Animals, Facts

Have you ever wondered how wild animals are capable of living and managing everything on their own? This, surely, is going to be an interesting thing to learn about. Animals are so much capable of doing everything and living their life on their terms. But when it comes to acts that require human intervention, it becomes interesting to know how animals do these things without us. Have you ever wondered how do wild sheep shear themselves? Since most of the sheep are sheared by humans, this is going to be wonderful to learn about. Isn’t it? So, do you know who holds the world record for the fastest shearing of a sheep? No? Then, come with me to know about the record, how do wild sheep shear themselves! and many more interesting facts.

1. Do Sheep Shear Naturally?

Most of the sheep do not shear naturally except a few. Most of them are bred to provide humans with wool. Shearing is done to maintain the health of the animals. But mostly, they are sheared for commercial purposes. The sheep that shear naturally are the breeds of wild sheep like Katahdin. They shed their coarse winter coats, so they do not require shearing by humans. They do this just by scratching their bodies against some trees and rubbing away their extra fluff as the weather starts to warm up.

Apart from commercial purposes, sheep are sheared because they cannot regulate the excess weight of hair upon them. During summer, this layer also makes them uncomfortable and overheats their bodies. (See What are Some Animals that have Feathers?)

2. What are Self Shearing Sheep?

Shearing is the act of removing hair or coat from the sheep’s body. Most of the sheep have to be sheared in order to keep them comfortable and prevent their body from overheating. Sheep are also sheared for commercial purposes. Although the sheep require shearing, there are some sheep that do not require the act and can do it on their own. Here is a list of some of the breeds of self shearing sheep that do not require shearing: 

  • Red Maasai: This is an ancient breed of sheep that was favored by nomadic Maasai tribesmen in eastern Africa. They are extremely disease resistant. They have the capability of shearing naturally.
  • West African Dwarf: West African Dwarf is a breed of sheep that hails from the forests of central and west Africa. This sheep is not suitable for industrial production because of its extremely slow growth. Apart from this, they are capable of shearing naturally.
  • Blackhead Persian: Blackhead Persian originated in Somalia and is found in parts of Latin America. They were specifically bred to meet the needs of cooking oil in ancient times. These sheep are capable of natural shearing.
  • Katahdin: This breed of sheep was developed in Maine. They are well-adapted to hot and humid climates. They are capable of shearing naturally.
  • American Blackbelly: This sheep is closely related to Barbados Blackbelly as well as has the genes of the wild mountain sheep called mouflon. They have dramatic horns.
  • Romanov: Romanov is a breed of sheep that grows a thick coat of hair in winter and shed them naturally in summer. It is a Russian breed of sheep.
  • Dorper: This breed of sheep has the ability to sheer naturally. Dorper breed of sheep has extremely large and meaty carcasses. They are popular choices for industrial-scale sheep production.
  • St. Croix: St. Croix is a 17th-century Caribbean breed that is now considered endangered. It is adapted to heat and humidity and is capable of growing a thick winter coat. This breed is capable of shearing its hair naturally.

3. How do Wild Sheep Shear themselves?

Do you know how do wild sheep shear themselves? This is what we are going to discuss here. Most wild sheep do not grow thick hair which will require them to get sheared. So, they are capable of surviving in the wild without shearing. So, how do wild sheep shear themselves? While some wild sheep, who require to be sheared, do it themselves by rubbing or scratching their bodies against some surface like a rock or tree. They shed their hair by getting it caught in the bushes and briers when they walk past it. Wild sheep are adapted to their environment and have the skills required for when and how to shear themselves. (See Do Sheep Sleep?)

4. What happens to Wild Sheep that don’t get Sheared?

So, what happens to wild sheep that don’t get sheared? Let’s answer this interesting question here. Sheep have to be sheared at regular intervals so that their health can be maintained. If the sheep are not sheared, then the wool on their body will lead to overheating, and discomfort, and it will also increase their chances of catching any disease. The wool on their body also attracts small insects, ticks, and flies that can irritate the sheep. The skin will also be at a higher risk of catching infections.

In summer months, the wool on their bodies can lead to overheating which will ultimately lead to the death of the sheep. Sometimes, when the shearing is not done, the weight of the wool is too much for the sheep to even move. So, it also hinders their ability to walk and roam around freely. The shearing of sheep is an important thing that has to be done to the sheep for protecting their health. (See What is a Baby Sheep Called?)

5. How did Sheep survive without Humans Shearing them?

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

Domestic sheep cannot survive without humans shearing them. On the other hand, wild sheep do not grow hair that is thick enough to require shearing. Since they live in the wild, they are not dependent on humans for shearing. So, how do wild sheep shear themselves? If they need, they are capable of shearing themselves by rubbing or scratching their bodies against some surface like that of a tree or rock.

Moreover, domestic sheep need timely shearing because neither they can shear themselves nor they are capable of surviving with so much hair on their bodies. This thick coat of hair causes them irritation and insects like ticks and flies attack them too. The layer of hair also causes their bodies to overheat which is dangerous as well. (See How many Camels are You Worth?)

6. Do Sheep feel Pain while being Sheared?

No, sheep do not feel pain while being sheared. This is because the wool grows on the uppermost layer of their skin which is usually dead. Just like a haircut for humans, shearing doesn’t hurt sheep. But they should be carefully sheared to avoid any cuts and injuries on their bodies, so, it requires a lot of skills. The shearing happens once every year before the summer season to keep the sheep comfortable and prevent their bodies from getting overheated. (See What is a Sheep Shelter called?)

7. Why is Shearing not Painful for Sheep?

Besides wondering how do wild sheep shear themselves, note that shearing is not at all painful for sheep. The coat of hair which has to be sheared is present on the uppermost layer of the skin which is usually dead. So, the sheep do not feel any pain while getting sheared. The process of shearing or the removal of hair from a sheep’s body is similar to a haircut. That is why it doesn’t hurt them. But one thing to be kept in mind is that the shearing should be done by a skilled shearer because it is crucial for the sheep to not get hurt. There should not be any cuts or injuries on the sheep’s body because can be dangerous to their health and can cause them pain. (See Why Do Goats Faint?)

8. What Breed of Sheep does not need Shearing?

Domestic sheep require shearing because they cannot do it themselves. It is important to shear them from time to time. It is an important and crucial part of their well-being. On the other hand, some wild sheep are capable of shearing naturally and do not require humans to shear them. Some of the breeds of sheep that do not need shearing are: 

  • St. Croix
  • Katahdin
  • American Blackbelly
  • Romanov
  • Red Maasai
  • West African Dwarf
  • Dorper
  • Blackhead Persian

9. How Long does it take to Shear a Sheep?

Image by Fran Chuty Media from Pixabay

Apart from learning how do wild sheep shear themselves, you must know that for a professional, it takes anywhere around 1-5 minutes to shear a sheep whereas the novice can take up to half an hour to shear a sheep. Sheep are better able to cooperate for a short period of time and may get irritated when it takes longer. So, it is important that a skilled person should shear a sheep keeping in mind the crucial skills required here. (Also read How many Shiba Inu Colors are there?)

10. What is the World Record for the Fastest Shearing of a Sheep?

  • The world record for the fastest shearing of a sheep is held by a Donegal man named Ivan Scott. He managed to shear a sheep in 37.9 seconds. This is a world record held by him. He is known to be the first Irish man to set this world record.
  • The world record for shearing the most number of sheep in minimum time is set by another person. He is a Brecon-based farmer who sheared 902 sheep in 9 hours. His name is Lloyd Rees, he is 28 years old.
About the author
Alex Williams is a PhD student in urban studies and planning. He is broadly interested in the historical geographies of capital, the geopolitical economy of urbanization, environmental and imperial history, critical urban theory, and spatial dialectics.

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