Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published October 31, 2009, 12:00 AM

Sheep schools slated

Due to the success of last year’s sheep shearing school, an official at North Dakota State University’s Hettinger Research Extension Center said it will continue this year.

By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press

Due to the success of last year’s sheep shearing school, an official at North Dakota State University’s Hettinger Research Extension Center said it will continue this year.

Chris Schauer, director of the Hettinger REC said the school, which is slated to be held Nov. 13 through Nov. 15 at the Hettinger REC, is attempting to help fill a need for sheep shearers within North Dakota and throughout surrounding states.

“As far as I can tell, this year we’ve got people from North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wisconsin,” Schauer said. “We’re trying to train people to have a full-time trade that they can do. The big issue is we don’t have enough shearers in the region for the sheep industry. That’s why we do it.”

The topics to be covered during the sheep shearing school include: Professional shearing patterns, tagging and eyeing, equipment maintenance and repair, and wool handling and preparation. Instructors for the school are Curt Olson, a Montana professional sheep shearer, and Wade Kopren, a professional sheep shearer from South Dakota, according to a press release.

The registration fee for the shearing school is $125. The fee includes tuition, a handbook and DVD.

The school is open to those who have experience in sheep shearing and those who do not. To allow for one-on-one instruction, registration is being limited. The registration deadline is Nov. 9.

New this year is a wool science and wool handling program, which will be held from Nov. 14-15, and will be taught by Bob Padula, an American Sheep Industry Association wool quality consultant, Schauer said.

“By in large, our producers — while they might be knowledgeable of their genetics and of wool in general — we don’t have a lot of people that are certified wool graders,” Schauer said. “They can really pick apart the fleece and pick the tops and the bottom from the middle. That’s the premise of the wool grading school, to try and get more people in the four-state region a little bit better at eyeballing wool. It’s a little bit art as well as science.”

Padula said learning how to grade wool is important to sheep growers.

“Different wool has different uses and is made into different products,” Padula said. “If it’s all mixed together, that limits the ability for that wool to be used for different applications and it lowers the value of that wool to the lowest wool quality.”

Padula said he’s been teaching since about 1985 and things have changed over the years.

“Costs of doing business has changed dramatically,” Padula said. “In teaching growers how to do these things, we’re helping them make their wool a more marketable product and increase the competition for that.”

Topics slated to be discussed during the wool grading and wool science school include: Wool fiber growth, development and production, objective wool measuring, genetic selection programs, wool contamination and handling practices, wool classing, packaging and labeling, and marketing.

The fee for the wool handing program is $35, which includes tuition and materials.

Tags: