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Sheep who have had their wool shorn co-mingle in a pen with sheep who are about to have their winter coats removed at a Western Slope ranch in March 2023. (William Woody, Special to The Colorado Sun)

It’s that time of year when the best sheep shearers from around the world travel from ranch to ranch in Colorado shearing thousands of sheep during the annual wool harvest. Colorado is consistently one of the Top 5 wool producing states, producing more than 2 million pounds of fiber each year that is used in a wide variety of products, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Shearing a sheep using mechanical shears to carefully cut the wool from the animal usually takes a couple of minutes and yields 11 to 13 pounds of wool per animal. The wool then is sorted for quality and bailed to be shipped and sold to wholesalers.

A professional sheep shearer from South America works to remove wool from a sheep. (William Woody, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Colorado wool growers say they take great pride in the care they provide their animals. Sheep must be shorn regularly to prevent excess wool from interfering with their ability to thermo-regulate. Excessive wool coats also make the sheep more vulnerable to becoming immobilized by physical obstacles in the environment and more susceptible to predator and parasite attacks.

Shearing generally takes place before the lambing season each spring in order to aid in lamb health and survival.

Shearing companies usually hire professionals from South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and many other countries who are trained specifically to remove the wool from the animals.

Freshly harvested wool from sheep sits ready for bailing. About 11-13 pounds of wool is harvested from each animal. (William Woody, Special to The Colorado Sun)

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Special to The Colorado Sun Email: Twitter: @wwoodyCO