Cleanskin Sheep - the pros and cons
Cleanskin sheep, easy-care, wool shedding,
hair sheep - they shed their wool without shearing. Minimal wool reduces the risk of lice
and flystrike, so you use less labour and fewer chemicals. No shearing
means that you don't need a shearing shed or a shearer. That's why they
are promoted as an 'easy care' option for everyone from hobby farmers
to outback pastoralists. But there are both advantages and
Shedding sheep - the Advantages:
Shedding sheep make sense if you don't have access to a shearing shed. Building a new shearing shed is uneconomic unless you have a very
large sheep business. And most shearers aren't interested in a very small flock.
Cleanskin shedding sheep generally need a lot less handling, with few problems with flystrike and lice. You can go away for a three week break and
not expect fly strike when you get back.
In some types of country (eg on dry land, with
protein shrubs in the pasture, and low stocking density), you can
muster cleanskin sheep just once or twice a year, without unacceptable
Many cleanskin sheep breeds have easier lambing
than wool sheep, and can rear more lambs.
New breeds of any stock can provide high returns in the early years.
Shedding sheep - the Downside
Shedding sheep don't give you a wool
cheque. For commercial sheep farmers, the wool value varies between
about 30% and 70% of their total income. Even if wool is only
30% of total income, shedding sheep need their own 30% advantage to
Some wool breeds produce better meat lambs than many cleanskin breeds.
Some shedding sheep breeds can be particularly
hard to handle. They need less handling (no shearing, crutching, or
lice treatment), but they still need yards, and sometimes they need a
lot more muscle when they are handled in the yards. Not necessarily the
ideal 'hobby farm' option!
Some cleanskin breeds require much better fencing than most wool breeds.
New breeds with small
numbers take time to establish, and often need development for
Upheavals within new breed societies are not
uncommon, and can be personally and economically destructive.
The prices of "high potential" new stock from angoras to sheep to emus,
can fall just as quickly as they rose.