Crutching longer with non-mulesed sheep

29 Oct, 2009 01:00 AM
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A RECENT project has looked into reducing productivity loss when crutching non-mulesed sheep.

The Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) project involved two shearer trainers working through a five-step process of shearing.

The five steps included the hand, entry, gear, cut, grip and positions. The two trainers were then required to change their technique and reduce the time they spent on crutching.

While AWI has released a document and short video on these findings, many growers and contractors alike are still finding non-mulesed sheep difficult.

York mulesing and crutching contractor Bill Wallace said although not many breeders in his area had non-mulesed sheep, those which he had crutched and were not mulesed took much longer.

"We don't crutch many non-mulesed sheep and of course how long will depend on the breed or type of Merino," Mr Wallace said.

"Some can be very wrinkly and then it will take much longer.

"Again if the sheep is dirty it is longer on top of that."

Mr Wallace said while it was hard to put a figure on how much longer non-mulesed sheep took to crutch, it was significant.

"Non-mulesed sheep take a hell of a lot longer," he said.

"It can also come down to the ability of the operator and how he handles his handpiece.

"Some growers take the tail off at the third joint, others don't, it is different for each mob."

Mr Wallace said he had had to change the way he crutched to accommodate and get through the non-mulesed mob quicker.

"You definitely have to change the way you crutch," he said.

"It is like shearing a wrinkly sheep, you have to use your free hand and smooth the skin out."

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