Part of taking care of sheep is shearing their wool. This happens at least once a year. While many farmers can and do shear their own sheep, there are plenty who hire someone to do that work.
Joe Huber has been shearing sheep professionally through his families business, Huber Sheep Shearing, since the late 80’s. Huber and his family have been shearing sheep for so long that they have worked with some families for generations.
“We have families that we have sheared for, between my Dad and I for forty five, fifty years…so we have long relationships and that’s some of it that keeps me going,” says Huber. All three of his sons have helped him shear over the years. One of his sons now lives in Iowa and shears fulltime.
While Huber only shears part-time, it still keeps him very busy. Shearing takes place all throughout the year though their busy time is November through June. Typically they only shear a flock once a year unless someone has show sheep they want sheared several times.
The largest flock that Huber shears is around seven hundred head. That flock takes several days to finish and requires help from all three of Huber’s sons. Most of the flocks they shear will take a full day to shear and he can typically shear eighteen to twenty sheep an hour. Huber can shear a sheep in less than four minutes.
While Huber’s clients tend to be on the larger side, he will shear smaller flocks or even a single show lamb. They will have to pay more money as it takes more time to set up than it will to shear the sheep.
Huber recognizes that as a professional sheep shearer, he is a rare breed. There are only a handful of other professional sheep shearers in the state. “It’s hard to really make a living off sheep unless you have that three hundred, four hundred head,” notes Huber. Even though the industry is shifting there is still opportunity. Huber shares that sheep byproducts are now being for more diverse purposes than ever before.