HOW TO CLIP A LAMB
CLIPPING TIPS & TECHNIQUES
With a few tips and techniques, you can begin to develop the skill to take the challenging chore of clipping a lamb into a positive experience! Clipping your lamb 30-40 days prior to your show is a good way to see how your lamb’s muscle is developing and to keep your lamb cool if you live in a hot climate.
- Shampoo, Conditioner & Towels
- Slinky Tube & Blanket
- Clippers, sharp blades, clipper oil & coolant & blade wash
- Grooming Stand
- Time, Patience & a Friend
SHOW CLIPPING - 10 DAYS PRIOR TO THE SHOW
Wash & Clip your Lamb:
- 10 days allows the wool to grow out enough to soften the overall look. It also allows time for any clipping mistakes to grow out! We all like to have a “do-over”! It also gets a major show prep task accomplished to free up time for all of the many other show preparation chores.
Exception to Clipping 10 days Prior to the Show:
- The only time it’s recommended to wait until the day or two before the show is if your lamb is recovering from being sick or is struggling to make weight. Keeping their wool on will keep them warm, comfortable and eating!
- If you live in hot climate, clipping your lamb early in the season will keep them cooler. Other advantages are that you can also see how the muscling is developing. It also gives you time to adjust the feed program if necessary.
- If you choose to clip your lamb early, blanket them at night. Make sure they are kept warm and comfortable. A sick or stressed lamb will not grow well.
- Read the Clipper 101 article to ensure that you have the right clippers and blades for the task at hand.
- Clipper Etiquette – If you borrow a set of clippers; buy a new set of blades to use. This ensures that you’re working with a sharp set. Sharp blades ALWAYS make the job easier! Once you are finished, you can give the blades to the clipper owner as a great way to say thanks!
GETTING READY TO CLIP
GROOMING STAND – This is a must have for all Sheep Showing. It is peace of mind to have your lamb secure and at a level that is easy to work on. NOTE – Never leave your lamb unattended. They can slip off with their back legs. If this happens, quickly lift the hind end back up on the stand and tell them to stand still. Yes, you can give your lamb commands…they are adept to learning!
WASH WITH SOAP & RINSE WELL! Clean wool along with sharp clipper blades will make the job easy! Even if the lamb “looks” clean, go ahead and wash with soap. Do not skip this step!
SHADE – Clip in a Shaded Area –Once your lamb is bathed, move the stand to a dry & shaded area to begin the clipping process. Clipping in the shade makes the job less stressful on everyone.
HELP – Have a Friend to Help – Having an extra pair of hands will keep your lamb still and safe on the stand.
NOTE – A head of time, make time to watch an experienced showman clip their animals. I guarantee you will learn time saving tips and techniques.
THE CLIPPING PROCESS
START WITH SHARP BLADES & OIL FREQUENTLY
- Sharp blades will cut easily through the clean wool. If the clippers start to drag or hang up on the wool, clean the blades with a brush and re-oil. If your lamb is not clean, it could be due to dirt in the wool or the blades are dull. If the blades are dull, stop and put on another SHARP set. This will save you time and frustration. It also keeps the clippers from overheating and burning the lamb. There are also coolant products to use during clipping to help keep the blades cool and clipping well.
WHAT DOES CLEAN WOOL LOOK LIKE?
- A clean lamb will look fluffy and soft to the touch. In this picture, this lamb has not been washed. See how the wool is clumped up? This will make it difficult to shear. Sheep can be clipped with damp wool. They do not need to be completely dry. So it’s easy to wash right before you clip.
- CLIP BACK TO FRONT, TOP TO BOTTOM – In smooth steady rows with 3/8” blade.
- KEEP THE SKIN TAUNT – Use your free hand to keep the skin taunt as you push the clippers towards your hand. Some lambs have loose and stretchy skin and keeping the skin tight will help the clipping process. It also keeps the blades from gouging the wool.
- DO NOT SLICK SHEER THE WOOL OFF OF THE LEG – Only clip to the top of the hocks (The hock is similar to your knee). The wool below the hock should be gently brushed out to be fluffy. Unless the styles and trends have changed, slick sheared legs make the leg look skinny.
- KEEP THE LEG WOOL – Even if your lamb doesn’t have alot of wool, keep whatever they have. In this picture, the wool needs to be clipped in the hock area (rear leg knee area). The hooves also need to be cleaned up prior to the show.
- TRIM – Trim the hair on the hooves and between the toes. Hooves should look rectangular with no over growth covering the bottom of the hoof. See article Hoof Trimming for more information.
- USE A 1/2″ BLADE ON THE FACE – This will take some patience and another person to hold the lamb while you clip in all the angles of the face. You;ll need to take the lambs face out of the rack to do clip the whole face.
- NOTE – The lamb can be sheered shorter at the show if you choose. But ALWAYS review the show rules for wool length.
Clean up the Lamb and Clipping Area – Always clean up cut wool after each lamb clipped. It will make the overall clipping much easier. Also after the clipping, wash the lamb with shampoo, rinse well and apply a good skin conditioner. This removes any loose wool and any clipper oil residue. Make sure that all body clipped sheep have blankets to keep them warm.
Before & After – It’s always amazing to see how different the lambs look without their wool. If you live in an area where the climate is hot, clipping your lamb early in the season will keep them cooler and also give you the ability to see how the lamb is developing muscling. It allows you the time to change the feed program if needed. If you choose to clip your lamb early, be certain that the lamb is blanketed at night and is kept warm and comfortable. A sick lamb will not grow well or consistent.
Blanket Sheared Sheep – Newly purchased market lambs that have been slick sheared will require shelter and a blanket to help reduce a chance of catching a cold. Also blanket all clipped lambs.
Breeding Stock – Breeders do not need to be body clipped. Wash; clean up with clippers, the face and leg wool.
At the Show & After Weigh-in – Once your lamb has been examined by the veterinarian and weighed in, get them settled in their pen and start prepping for final grooming. This is a good day to get focused on the show. Get all the sheep in your group up on the grooming stands and as a team do a quick grooming inspection over each lamb to see what needs to be cleaned up. Don’t wait until the busy show day! This is a great learning time to see clipping techniques, mistakes made and how to fix or blend them away. Here the other kids are watching the more experienced showmen cleaning up the sheep. County fairs rules demand that only exhibitors work on the livestock. This ensures that the kids work together as a team to help each other. Many times the kids will learn more from their experienced peers!
Show Day – 2-3 hours before your class, wash or spot clean your lamb. This gives you time to work on final grooming touches, give your lamb a chance to settle down and you the time to get dressed in your show clothes. Always read the show rules for grooming: The lamb should represent its natural coloring. No dyes allowed.
“Your legacy and experience is honored when you share it with your fellow novice/intermediate showmen”.