Writer: Justin Bannister, 575-646-5981, firstname.lastname@example.org
LAS CRUCES - While the wool industry of New Mexico has declined over the past 25 years, there is still a big demand for good shearers. There are approximately 50 in-state shearers servicing the 125,000 head of sheep shorn each year, which yields about $1 million worth of wool.
"There's a need to have people learn to shear sheep, especially for those who own flocks with 25 to 75 heads," said Clay Mathis, New Mexico State University professor and livestock specialist. "It's hard to find someone to shear the smaller flocks. There's opportunity out there for a good shearer." And there's only one way to learn the trade - practice, practice, practice.
NMSU's Extension Animal Science and Natural Resource Department will host its annual shearing school from noon Wednesday, Dec. 17, to noon Friday, Dec. 19, at the school's sheep barn. Cost is $20 per person.
Under the direction of expert shearer Pat Melendrez, participants will learn tricks of the trade from basic sheep-handling skills and equipment needed, including the types of combs and blades needed for the various shearing conditions, to how to maintain the equipment.
"They will learn management of the shearing for the safety of the sheep and the shearer," said Extension agriculture specialist Melendrez. "There are a lot of things to take into consideration when buying the equipment, which will have an impact on the shearing."
Melendrez, who has been shearing sheep for 33 years, said "a young guy can make some pretty good money shearing sheep. A good shearer can really stay busy."
Registration deadline is Dec. 1. For more information and to register call (575) 646-3326.
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