Shearing sheep doesn’t seem too difficult in theory, but the cost is up there.
There are a couple of different ways to shear a sheep, including doing it yourself or hiring a sheep shearing service to do it for you.
To help decide which is for you, it’s best to look at the cost of sheep shearing.
Shearing sheep is important to keep them cool and healthy once spring rolls around but can range in price significantly based on the size of the herd. Not including transportation and equipment fees, sheep can cost between $125-$5 per head, decreasing with the size of the flock.
Keep reading, and we’ll break down the different costs a sheep shearing service will charge and the average prices across the U.S. of what it costs to get sheep sheared.
In addition, we’ll cover the equipment you would need to do it yourself and compare the pros and cons of either method.
How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Sheep Shearer?
Costs involved in hiring a sheep shearer are largely dependent on location and the size of your flock.
Most flock shearing services will charge minimum costs for the first 5 sheep, transportation, half-day or full-day rates, and hourly costs.
The first charge will be for the first five sheep and somewhere between $100-150 for those five.
This cost is part of the bare minimum for the professional to come to your property and make it worth the time.
After the cost per sheep is set for the first 5, shearing prices will be determined by the total size of the flock.
Sheep 6-15 will cost somewhere between $10-20 per head and will usually decrease in quantities of 25, 50, and 100 down to $5-7 per head.
These prices will vary depending on where you are, but for the most part, you’ll be able to find pretty similar rates across the U.S.
Rams will probably be charged at a higher rate than ewes and wethers, and if you want hoofs trimmed, expect to pay about $5 per head.
In addition to a price per sheep, drive time will be factored into the total cost.
This cost will, of course, depend on how far away your farm is from the shearer, but expect this charge to usually be between $50-150 for most people.
Half-day and full-day rates will be established based on the individual businesses’ hourly rates and the total time of service.
It will be in the $50-100 range per hour.
This means half-day rates may cost $200-400, and full-day rates may cost between $400-800.
For a small flock of 10 sheep, you are looking at shearing costs of at least $550 and $1,000 if you live in a particularly expensive area.
For larger flocks of 100+ animals, $1,100 is a good average estimate, and double would be on the expensive end.
Hiring Cost Table
|Number of Sheep||Charge Per Head||Drive Time; Hourly; Day Rate Totals|
|1-5 sheep||$100-150 total||$50-100; $100; $200-400|
|6-15 sheep||$60-300 total ($10-20 per head)||$50-100; $100; $200-400|
|25-100 sheep||$125-700 ($5-7 per head)||$50-100; $100; $400-800|
How Much Does Sheep Shearing Equipment Cost?
If you have a small flock, you might also consider shearing sheep yourself to cut costs as the price per head is expensive to hire someone to do it.
The equipment needed to shear sheep is not particularly expensive, and both electric and analog options are available.
Simple shears cost only $20; for example, this pair of simple shears on Amazon will work to shear a few sheep but need to be sharpened regularly to keep them fully operational.
A more powerful shearing machine is a worthwhile investment with a larger flock or if you are serious about sheep shearing.
Beetro makes 500W Sheep Shears for $90, and with a bottle of clipper lube, you’re ready to shear your sheep.
The equipment required to shear sheep is not particularly expensive but learning how to do it will take some practice and many hours of YouTube or taking a class.
Relate Reading: Do dog clippers work for sheep?
Should You Shear Sheep Yourself?
Shearing your sheep is difficult to learn but can save you money, especially if you have a small flock.
Shearing annually is important to keep the wool in good condition for shearing and will need to be done one way or the other.
Learning to do it yourself is worthwhile if you are able to spend a long weekend learning to shear your herd and what the time is worth it to you.
It’ll help build your bond with the animals too. The sheep may even show they like you more.
When paying a professional to do it, most of the cost is due to their experience and efficiency.
Shearing a sheep for the first time may take up to an hour, and inexperienced shearers can expect it to take 15 minutes a head compared to a professional who can do it in 2 minutes or so.
If saving the time required to learn and go through the process of shearing a sheep is worth spending a few hundred dollars, then, by all means, call your local shearer and pay to do so.
Many farmers think it is worth it to hire a shearer for the added benefits they’ll shear quickly, do a good job, check the body condition of each animal, and let you know about foot rot or other issues you might not notice.
Both shearing sheep and hiring someone to do so have benefits, and it is up to you to weigh the pros and cons of time and money spent vs. saved and the experience and knowledge a professional brings.
Why Should You Shear Sheep?
Many sheep farmers ask themselves, “do I need to shear my sheep?”
And the answer is almost always yes, with a few variables.
Some breeds of sheep don’t need to be sheared, known generally as “hair sheep.”
These sheep have much thinner coats that resemble hair much more than wool and do not grow nearly as thick as wool.
Interestingly, only domestic sheep need to be sheared as wild sheep are wool-shedding sheep and shed in the spring to prevent them from overheating.
Further Reading: Sheep shedding their wool naturally and in the wild
Most domestic breeds, however, have been selectively bred to retain their wool.
Sheep who do not get sheared in the spring run risks of parasites burrowing in their wool and going unnoticed, increased chances of dehydration, decreased mobility, or fly strike.
Sheep wool might even build up to a point to be too heavy for them to be able to lift it.
In addition to keeping sheep healthy, shearing gives you access to wool with many different uses and purposes.
Wool does not hold the value it once did but still is worth a few dollars a pound in a larger wool market or for $6-7 for quality wool in small batches to dedicated niche buyers.
A single sheep can produce a fleece weight of 5-10 pounds yearly.
Wool makes great insulation, spun into yarn, and if you don’t have a use for it, donated to your local zoo for use in animal enrichment.