Adult merino sheep have normally been shorn once per year – f or the last 200 years in Australia, but now the tradition is no longer the normal on some farms.  Shearing adult merino sheep more than once a year is slowly becoming a more common practice as sheep are becoming larger, grow heavier fleeces and have longer staple lengths.  Some farming operation now shear adult sheep every six months while others may shear at eight monthly intervals, or three times in two years. Young merino sheep have historically been shorn between six and ten months of age to bring them into line with the shearing of the adult sheep.

The questions now asked are:

  • Does an extra shearing of young sheep increase their body growth and condition?
  • How much extra wool do sheep grow as a result of their extra shearing and is the wool quality better? What are the changes in clean fleece weight, wool yield, staple length and strength, micron and vegetable matter contamination?
  • Is management of sheep easier with the extra shearing? Sheep in shorter wool may be easier to manage and six monthly shorn sheep probably do not need crutching.
  • How does shearing adult sheep more than once per year affect the overall farm profitability? There are extra costs, such as the extra shearing, but other costs maybe lower- for example no crutching. What is the price of shorter length wool – is there a premium or discount.  Is there a price discount for over length annual shearing wool, sometimes with a staple length of 110 mm plus?

The new Elmore Field Days project ‘Merino wethers – shearing and growth for meat and wool’ aims to help answer these questions.  It will determine the merits of shearing interval (annual vs double shearing) of merino wethers on wool and body growth.  It will also provide a high interest site display to attract visitors to the Elmore Field Days.

Two merino wether types, a wool focused type and a dual purpose type will be tested to compare the effects of more frequent shearing on wool and sheep growth over three years. Key measurements on the sheep will include body weights and condition score each six months.  Additional measurements from normal wool bale core tests and grab samples will be included.  Additional wool tests on wool mid-side samples will be dependent on industry support.  Additional wool measurements sought will be the base measurements of micron and yield, plus extra measures on wool staple length and tensile strength.  Ease of shearing assessments will also be made.  Other difficult to measure factors such as dealing with stain and grass seed problems will be noted and included in the financial analyses where appropriate.


Thank you to our sponsors:

 2020 Sheep sponsors 5.8.20


Previous Studys:

Ewes for the future - fertility, lambs and wool 2015-2019

Ewes for the Future Lambs Wool & Profit 2009-2014

For a copy of the results please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


To view a presentation on an economic analysis of the results given at the 2017 Bestwool Bestlamb conference ‘Ewes for the future – lambs, wool & profit.   Jan 2009 to Oct 2014’  follow the links below: