Shearing Sheep and Goats: The Go-Down Technique

Shearing the First Side


The opening blow is made upwards from the hock to butt of the tail, keeping to side of the leg and avoiding the hamstring.

POSITIONING: The shearer stands on the goat’s left side with his left leg/knee against the goat’s mid-side. The tail is held with the left hand to pull the goat against the shearer’s left leg.



The blow begins at the base of the tail in the previously shorn opening and continues along the middle of the back-line up to the base of the horns. Care is necessary when shearing the area in front of the withers at the base of the neck, as the skin may have some wrinkling. Second cuts may be avoided by commencing the blow slightly down from the mid-line.

POSITIONING: The shearer stands in the same position as for the first blow. He will need to twist his upper body and lean to his left as the blow nears the head. The goat is pulled onto the shearer’s left leg while holding the tail with the shearer’s left hand.



Blows are made from the opening blow down the rear leg towards the head next to the previous blow. As each successive blow is made it finishes going up the neck.

POSITIONING: The goat is held in the same manner as previously, with the shearer bending further over the animal as each blow gets lower.



The next blow begins low down on the back leg and goes up. The handpiece is turned forward when moving over the flank and travels down onto the side of the belly. Another short blow is made down the rear of the outside of the front leg, the handpiece turned around and brought up the front leg and turned forward over the shoulder and brisket. These blows clean up the opening side.

POSITIONING: Positioning of the animal is as for previous blows. Care is needed when shearing across the flank; so as to avoid cutting the flap of skin, keep the handpiece flat onto the skin. Care is also needed to avoid “spearing” the goat behind the point of the shoulder when finishing this blow.

A slight modification of this technique, adopted by many experienced shearers, is to finish the first blows along the side at the shoulder. The operator then straddles the goat at the hips, gripping the goat between the knees. By leaning back slightly the shearer stretches and straightens the goat’s neck and forequarter slightly, making shearing easier. The shearer, by resting his spare hand on the head bale, finds it easier to lean foreward to shear the front of the goat, easing back stress.


Shearing the Second Side

To shear the second side, it has been found that the best results are obtained by simply changing the shearing hand and repeating the steps shown in “THE FIRST SIDE”. Nearly all shearers, including learners and experienced operators, have found that, with patience and practice, this can be achieved. The big advantage of doing this is that all the fibre is shorn “against the grain”, giving a much cleaner cut and reducing second cuts.

If however, after much perseverance, it is found that both hands cannot be used, then the second side can be shorn as follows:


The blow begins at the base of the horns in the area previously shorn and goes down behind the ears and cheek, under the neck, to the top of the throat.

POSITIONING: The shearer straddles the goat facing the goat’s head. The goat is bent to present the outside of a curve on the unshorn side. This creates a smooth skin and an easier surface to shear. The handpiece is rolled over to follow the shape of the neck. The handpiece needs to be “led-in” sharply, as shearing is in the direction of the hair.



Another three blows are made from the top of the neck to the underside next to the previous blow. These blows open up the second side back to a line from the point of the withers down the front leg.

POSITIONING: Similar to the previous blow.



The next blow is again a long blow. It begins at the top of the shoulder and ends at the base of the tail, running next to the original blow made on the first side.

POSITIONING: The shearer stands facing the goat on the goat’s right side. Holding the goat’s tail with his left hand, the shearer bends the goat slightly around his right leg. The shearer’s left leg is used for balance.



This blow runs from the shoulder towards the tail next to the previous blow. Near the base of the tail, the handpiece is turned to run down the outside of the rear leg to end near the point of the hock. Do not run down the rear of the leg when nearing the hock as it is easy to cut the hamstring and cause lameness.

POSITIONING: The goat is held in a similar manner to the previous blow when going from the shoulder to the tail. When the blow is made down the back leg, the shearer will move closer to the goat’s rear, keeping his right leg in the goat’s right flank and holding the tail with his left hand.



These blows are made from the shoulder to the rear leg next to the previous blows. They begin in a shorn area and end in a shorn area so that second cuts and run outs are minimised.

POSITIONING: The goat Is held in a similar manner to that shown in the first photo on side two. That is, the shearer stands facing the goat on its right side. The goat’s tail is held by the shearer’s left band against his left leg.



This final blow is started at the rear of the front leg along the side of the belly, down the outside of the flank and outside front of the rear leg. Care is needed to ensure that the loose skin in the flank is not cut.

POSITIONING: The shearer stands facing the goat on its right side. The goat’s tail is held by the shearer’s left hand, pulling the goat against the shearer’s right leg.