Primitive sheep would have shed their fleece naturally, but with thousands of years of human intervention, even primitive breeds don't always naturally shed their coats.
I work with an experienced blade shearer, early in the spring before lambing, not only to reduce any negative impact on the sheep, but to improve the welfare of the animals and their young. Using these traditional skills and farming practices, also benefits the quality of the wool I produce.
I shear before lambing so that the ewes can lamb free of heavy, wet, dirty, uncomfortable fleece. I then get a better fleece before it declines in quality as resources go to producing milk. All of the HoneyWoods Flock lamb outside, clean-fleeced and ready to ‘drop and run’ in a natural, healthier environment. My shearer returns in autumn to get the very best soft lamb's fleece before it has endured a winter out in the fields.
Shearing can be stressful for sheep so by shearing by hand, the process is calmer for the ewes and shepherd alike.
Hand shearing leaves a layer of wool rich in lanolin on the animal which stops them being exposed to the elements. It is a slower process in which the shearer and I can take the time we need to look over the animals and check they are healthy and well, and the shearer has the time to get the very best out of the fleeces. Blade shearing gives us a cleaner fleece with less lanolin and fewer second cuts.
I lamb my flock every other year which also gives them a chance to put their energy in to their fleeces rather than pregnancy, and the lambs are slow growing primitive breeds suited to our methods of land management with wildlife at its heart.