The preparation of sheep before shows or sales is of vital importance, in order for the sheep to be seen at its best.
Sheep should be in good condition, ideally having received supplementary feeding prior to show or sale to add condition and bloom to the animal, however care must be taken to not over feed sheep so they become too fat.
Ideally, they should also have been shorn early in the year, usually early in the year for summer show sheep and by early May for sale sheep, allowing for plenty of wool growth prior to the show or sale.
Ideally sheep should be trimmed, but if you are not confident in this then the basic minimum is that their feet should be trimmed short so they stand and walk well, they should be clean and their faces should be washed. Show sheep should be halter-trained so that they walk and stand well. Below are some more tips on show preparation.
Pre sale inspections
Please note that all sheep entered at Society sales will be inspected and those that are not up to the desired breed standards will be rejected. If you are unsure whether your sheep are good enough to enter the sales, please ask a more experienced breeder for advice. If you do not know who to ask for advice, please contact us and we will do our best to help.
TO SHOW OR NOT TO SHOW
Early planning is a good idea so it’s a good idea to sort out which sheep you intend to show in the autumn and start feeding them and halter train them. For showing in the early part of the summer, older sheep can be shorn in December/January to ensure enough fleece growth for trimming.
Six weeks before the first show
Some breeders trim out a rough shape on the sheep before washing. Fairy liquid is good for getting out the grease, etc – or any other wool washing liquid. Do not wash them too close to the shows, and do not wash lambs, or the wool might be too soft. Ideally, sheep should only be washed once.
In the run up to the show, card and trim the sheep as much as possible. The nice marble effect finish is achieved by repeated carding and trimming. The carding is as important as the trimming, if not more so! Every curl should be carded out of the wool, and then the excess trimmed off. There are many wool fix and trimming fluid options available, as well as optons such as diluted Dettol to help fix the wool before “batting down” with a board to achieve a good finish.
It is the repeated carding, trimming and batting that is most important. Trim round the black markings on the face with a small pair of scissors as this will make the markings more distinct. Ears can also be improved by trimming off all the long hairs. Make sure the feet are neatly trimmed and sheep are free from lameness.
On Show Day
For one-day shows there will be little time to do much carding and trimming, so do this the day before. Once at the show, faces and legs should be washed. Spray fleeces with what ever wool fix solution you choose and do more batting. A small amount of carding and trimming can be done if you have time and remember to remove any bits of hay and straw from the fleece – particularly under the belly – before entering the show ring. Remember clean halters, make sure you are tidy and wearing a clean white coat, and you have got your exhibitor numbers to hand.
Handling in the ring
It’s important to show you are confident and capable of handling your sheep in the show ring. Hold the head of the sheep secure when the judge handles the animal and ensure the feet and legs of the sheep remain square (leg in each corner) while the sheep is stood still. Regularly make eye contact with the judge in case he or she motions an action for you.