The 8 Best Sheep Clippers
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in December of 2016. Wool is one of the most versatile materials available: it's all-natural and sustainable, and it can be produced without harming animals. Whether you work on a sheep farm and it's time to shear the flock, or you merely tend to a few animals privately, try your hand with one of these clippers. They make quick and easy work of the job, and we've ranked them here by power, noise level, and durability. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 01, 2020:
We had to remove the Lister Laser Machine II, the Oster Animal Shearmaster, and the Genssi Farm Supplies Shears due to availability concerns. We also had to remove our previous special honor, the Andis Xpedition LGS, because it had become unavailable.
We added the Pet & Livestock HQ Shears, an option with a bottom comb that floats the blade so that you're less likely to accidentally cut animals with it. We also added the Apelila Six-Speed and TakeKit Heavy Duty, two especially affordable options that are also suitable for thick-coated dogs.
For our new special honor we added the UltraEdge Super 2-Speed, which is built to last and perform heavy-duty shearing without overheating. It also lacks prohibitively high price point that other high-end shears have and which often drive customers away.
August 29, 2019:
In a minor shakeup to our previous ranking, the Premiere 1 4000C fell down a few spots on our list. While it remains a highly regarded and extremely functional option, it does lack the kind of teeth you see on our top models, and as a result, it may have a hard time catching hold of the particularly long coat on wool breeds like Corriedale and Merino sheep. That can make handling shorn wool much more difficult, but for raising meat and dairy sheep whose wool isn't intended for sale, or simply for finishing work, the Premiere is probably the best thing for your purposes.
There remain a lot of options on the market in the 350-400-watt range that are produced by one or two Chinese manufacturers and slapped with different brand names to create a confusing facade of diversity, but we've sussed out the more reliable models on which they're based, and included them here (see the Genssi and Best Choice Products options). Try not to be fooled by offerings outside our list that may look identical in many ways to these, but cost significantly less. To be really safe, you'll want to stick to the name brands: Oster, Wahl, and Andis (represented in our special honors section) being the most reliable.
UltraEdge Super 2-Speed With shatter-proof polymer housing and a super-blocking carbon-steel blade that runs cool, this durable shearer won't burn out, break, or overheat on you. It's very powerful, too, with a motor that allows it to run at an impressive 3,400-4,400 strokes per minute. sheepman.com
Making Fleece A Reality
Finally, keeping the amount of excess wool manageable provides a clean environment for your sheep and newborn lambs.
Baa, baa black sheep have you any wool? Yes, sir yes, sir, three bags full. Simplicity and old nursery rhymes notwithstanding, farm and livestock management carry a great deal of importance in both the United States and on a global scale when it comes to agriculture and resource sustainability. Many things we take for granted wouldn't be possible without a system of animal husbandry in place to maintain production of various objects used by the masses on a daily basis. A wool sweater, for example, would be more difficult to acquire were it not for dedicated farmers who spend time clipping (and shearing) their livestock on an annual basis using specialized tools designed for the trade. Among these tools is a good pair of electric sheep clippers designed to remove all that wool from the animals without causing them any harm.
Similar in style to many dog grooming tools, the sheep clipper is a heavy-duty solution dedicated to livestock maintenance. It is typically equipped with an ergonomic handpiece, a powerful electric motor, a muti-toothed cutting blade, and a guard or comb, all of which work together to remove large quantities of wool from your livestock in a safe and efficient manner. The comb is an important part of the blade system, as it is used to glide across an animal's body and separate the individual wool fibers. The top cutter slices through those fibers as they pass between the blade's teeth. A small bevel at the end of the comb's teeth allows the cutter to glide back and forth across the flat portion of the comb, essentially acting as a protective barrier that prevents an animal's skin from being cut by the blades.
Aside from its cutting power and degree of precision, a good pair of sheep clippers provides several benefits to both the animal and farmer. Firstly, the device streamlines the wool harvesting and preparation processes so that it can be cut to the appropriate length for spinning into yarn. If annual sales of raw fleece are important to your livelihood, the clippers become a necessary tool for maximizing efficiency when the raw product is in high demand. That doesn't mean you have to rule out the use of manual blade shears entirely, but the electric variety will certainly help you get the job done faster. Next is the benefit to the animal. Imagine being forced to live in a fur coat all year with no way to regulate your body temperature or clean your skin. Electric sheep clippers solve these problems by removing excess hair during the summer months and minimizing the accumulation of manure or urine on your animals. Shearing will also prevent parasitic infections such as flystrike from afflicting your flock. Clipping sheep is also beneficial for promoting the regrowth of new wool for the next season. Finally, keeping the amount of excess wool manageable provides a clean environment for your sheep and newborn lambs.
Choosing The Best Sheep Clippers
Comfort for both you and your animals should be the first major consideration when investing in a pair of dependable sheep clippers. The exterior housing of the device should be rubberized and easy to grip. This type of surface will help to absorb excess noise as the motor runs, minimizing the chance of spooking your livestock during the shearing process. The blades on the device should be sharp enough to cut through thick layers of wool without injuring your sheep at the skin level. Many electric shears are equipped with pivoting heads and joints, making it easy to cut and shape the animals from different angles.
The particular breed will inform the best type of device and attachments to use.
The particular breed will inform the best type of device and attachments to use. For example, a moderately-powered set of clippers used to shear a medium-wool Southdown might not work as well for a long-wool breed on a farm, such as a Border Leicester. That said, the choice really comes down to whether your preferred device is a practical solution for cutting through the particular texture of wool that your flock grows throughout the year.
If you plan to use a pair of clippers for the purposes of both the show circuit and harvesting, it's always a good idea to spring for a model with a dependable motor that delivers between 2,500 and 3,000 blade strokes per minute. This way, you can be sure you have adequate power with enough speed and precision to withstand heavy use, but without the concern of the tool giving out during a heated competition or busy shearing season.
A Brief History Of Sheep Clippers
Sheep were originally domesticated over 10,000 years ago, but it wasn't until around 6000 B.C.E. that humans first began trading wool. Centuries later, explorations organized by Queen Isabella of Spain were funded through her wool trading business. These explorations included the famous voyage of Christopher Columbus to the Americas in 1492. It was during this time that Spanish sheep were first introduced to America. Known as churras and first bred by the Navajo tribe for both their food and wool, these New World sheep would become the ancestors of modern American sheep.
Handheld electric sheep clippers became common at the beginning of the 20th century.
In 1788, 29 sheep were successfully transported from Cape Town, South Africa to Sydney, Australia. Ten years later, 13 more sheep, known as Spanish Merinos, were added to the Australian flock of 2,000 in an effort to produce a finer grade of wool. It took an additional 100 years before the first machine shearing technology was invented around 1882.
By 1892, Queensland resident John Robert Howe successfully sheared 321 sheep in a single day using a pair of hand shears. As a reward for his record-breaking activities, Howe was presented with one of the first mechanical sheep clippers by the Wolseley company in 1893.
Handheld electric sheep clippers became common at the beginning of the 20th century. Today's sheep clippers offer the versatility and speed needed to successfully harvest all types of wool, thanks to their use of interchangeable blades and powerful electric motors.