No shearing with self-shedding sheep

SUSAN STRONGMAN
Last updated 08:51 20/02/2014
No need for a trip to the barber for Tarata farmers Stephanie and Hans Michel’s self-shedding two-tooth sheep.
CHARLOTTE CURD/Fairfax NZ

SHEEP SHAPE: No need for a trip to the barber for Tarata farmers Stephanie and Hans Michel’s self-shedding two-tooth sheep.

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Work smarter, not harder is Hans Michel's motto.

And the Tarata farmer and his wife Stephanie might just be onto something - their mob of 450 sheep shed their own wool.

Self-shedding wiltshire sheep begin losing their wool in November and the Michels say by Christmas they are usually completely bare.

But the husband and wife say people wanting to take a shearing shortcut need to take heed, because not all wiltshire sheep are self-shedding.

"Even if the sheep is 100 per cent wiltshire self-shedding, it does not guarantee the offspring will be," explained the Swiss-born man.

When non-shedding sheep are born on the Michel farm, they get a one-way ticket to the meatworks.

He said he knew one farmer who had been so keen on the idea of not having to shear sheep, he bought about 200 of the breed, only to find not all of them dropped their wool.

Mr and Mrs Michel, now parents of four, moved to New Zealand about 15 years ago to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

They have bred the wiltshire sheep for about eight years, they do not dip them and they say in that time they've had only one animal suffer from fly-strike.

"They are a reasonably resilient breed," said Mrs Michel, who was born in Germany.

The couple also said that because less energy is put into wool growth, the sheep get a lot bigger, faster.

And the couple don't mind that they're not getting any wool from them. They say wool is about 70 per cent effort for about 20 per cent profit anyway. Plus the local birds like using the bits they find lying around the farm in their nests.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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