BOZEMAN, MT — Montana State University Extension and Montana Wool Growers Association are offering a beginner wool harvesting school on Oct. 13-16, at locations in Billings and Molt. The school is for those who want to learn how to shear their own small flock or take a step toward becoming a professional shearer.
Participants will learn marketing and business skills relevant to the wool industry, become familiar with the shearing machine and shearing tools and gain hands-on experience shearing sheep in a way that maintains a quality wool clip and minimizes stress to the sheep and shearer.
The cost of the three-day school is $300, which allows students to take more advanced MSU Extension-sponsored shearing classes for no additional charge (depending on the student’s shearing ability) or repeat the beginner course to refine their basic skills. The fee also includes supplies, beverages, lunches and snacks.
Brent Roeder, MSU Extension sheep specialist, will lead the course, along with Scott Lammers, Center of the Nation Wool manager, and Wade Kopren, sheep producer and professional shearing instructor.
Instruction begins at 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Center of the Nation Wool warehouse, 119 S. 25th St. in Billings. Participants will learn about the principles of wool harvesting and the wool industry, animal welfare, business finance and labor laws, types of shearing gear and how to set up shearing equipment.
From Friday, Oct. 14, to Sunday, Oct. 16, participants will travel daily to the Hollenbeck Ranch, 212 Oil Well Road in Molt, for the hands-on shearing portion of the course.
Because bending over and holding a sheep while shearing is physically demanding, Roeder said, it is important people realize it requires strength and stamina.
“Shearing requires the ability to comfortably lift 50 to 60 pounds chest high,” he said. “It also requires stamina, so a person should be able to do tasks such as loading a pickup with small, square hay bales without stopping or running continuously for 15 minutes.”
The class is limited to 16 students and those interested in attending need to complete an application form. Applicants under 16 years old must have instructor approval.
For more information about the wool harvesting school and to request an application, visit animalrangeextension.montana.edu/sheep/woolharvesting.html or email Denise Hoepfner at email@example.com. For answers to specific questions not found on the website, contact Brent Roeder at 406-980-0719.