Sheep Shearing, Wool and Ranch Services

I am a certified Beginner Level 2 sheep shearer from the University of California ANR in Hopland, CA. I provide tiny flock sheep shearing services throughout the Bay Area and northern California. Please read this page and contact me at stephany.wilkes [@] gmail [dot] com to inquire further. Please note: I am often on the road and do not see or respond to blog comments, so email is best.

National Shearer's Certificate

My 2015 shearing certification. I was also certified as Beginner Level 1 in 2013 and 2014.

I am a certified Level I Wool Classer, having met the requirements of the American Sheep Industry (ASI) Association’s Certified Wool Classing Program in May 2014. I also work as a ranch hand for select customers to assist with lambing and other livestock needs.

A woman bent over shearing a large sheep in a barn

Shearing a Targhee at the Hopland UCANR

What information do you need from me? What do you need to know about my sheep?

We will talk through this by phone before I shear for you, but I will need to know:

  • How many sheep you have, their estimated weight and size, and their breed(s)
  • How many are ewes, rams, yearlings or wethers
  • When your sheep were last shorn (if they have ever been shorn)
  • Your location
  • Any past or current issues with your sheep: abscesses, fly strike, possible pregnancy, injuries — anything particular to each animal that may affect its health, temperament, skin, fleece and so on.

How should I prepare for shearing?

There are some critically important things you should do to prepare for shearing:

  • Pen your sheep. Please gather and pen your sheep for at least 8-10 hours before shearing. Rounding up your animals is not part of my service offering, and being chased by a stranger only adds to a sheep’s stress. Penning the sheep well in advance ensures the animal(s) is calmer and thus easier to handle when it’s time for shearing.
  • Make sure your sheep are dry. I cannot shear wet sheep, and this includes a heavy morning mist. Shears do not move through wet wool properly and wet wool will rot and can even smolder, since wool is warm when wet.
  • Do not feed or water the sheep for 12 hours ahead of shearing. This is usually the most difficult item for caring shepherds because it feels cruel. But “fasting” is critical for sheep health and comfort. When the sheep is being moved into different positions for shearing, having food and water inside strains their organs, pushes against the sheep’s diaphragm and makes the sheep feel like it can’t breathe, and can cause heart attacks. I have heard shearers describe sheep going into cardiac arrest right between the shearer’s legs (one even gave a sheep CPR to save it). One of my shearing instructors said it best: “Imagine I fed you Thanksgiving dinner and then asked you to stay doubled over in a ball for an hour. How would you feel?” Please work with me to avoid this scenario and make your sheep as comfortable as possible.

What do I need to provide?

Not much. I bring everything I need with me, but the following items are always helpful:

  • Electricity and power outlets: My shears are electric, so power outlets must be available in the general shearing vicinity. I will bring extension cords, but extras of those can be helpful to have on hand depending on how large an area is involved.
  • A clean piece of plywood (4′ x 4′ or larger): This results in a cleaner fleece with less vegetable matter. Please let me know if you do not have any clean plywood handy and I can arrange to bring a clean sheet or rubber mat with me.
  • A broom for post-shearing clean-up.
  • Laundry or garbage bags for fleece you wish to keep.

Where do you shear?

I do not have strict geographic boundaries for shearing services. I do my best to adapt based on your needs and location and my schedule. I shear throughout the Bay Area; Marin; the Alexander, Russian River and Napa Valleys; and have gone as far as the Ukiah vicinity and Davis, CA. I am flexible and can probably work with your location.


When do you shear?

I shear on weekdays and weekends by appointment only, all year round. I am self-employed and thus have a good degree of flexibility.


Why did you become a sheep shearer and wool classer?

I became a certified shearer in May 2013, 2014 and 2015 because I want to directly support my local California wool economy in a way that goes beyond buying yarn (which I’m still plenty good at). I want to do everything I can to help California wool production and to make wool producers’ lives easier, so that we can all enjoy a healthy supply of 100% ecologically and domestically produced fiber and, by extension, clothing.

There is a shortage of shearers in the U.S. and people with small flocks (many of whom are knitters and spinners) have an especially difficult time finding shearers. It’s not always worth a shearer’s time to travel far to shear just a few head. This creates a challenge at best, and a disincentive to wool production at worst, for people who might otherwise contribute to the wool economy.

Because I only have the strength and time for tiny flock shearing, I am in a good position help an under-served part of the wool economy.

A photo of a group of people on a hillside in front of a large sign

The graduating class of certified Level 1 Wool Classers, May 2014

I became a wool classer so I could better handle fleeces I shear, and to be able to help out at a local wool mill that’s getting up and running.


Why do you only shear tiny flocks?

At present, I do not have the physical strength to shear more than 20 or so sheep in a day, depending on the size of the sheep. I can do more 70-80 lb. Shetland in a day than I can 250+ lb. Romney.

Shearing is very physically demanding work (especially if a sheep weighs more than I do, as is often the case in the U.S. with our large meat sheep). I’m getting stronger all the time but I’m also honest about my limitations.

If you have a large flock of sheep that needs shearing, I can recommend several very experienced, reliable shearers, whom I know personally. They will do a top-notch shearing job for you.


Do you trim hooves?

Yes. I charge $5/head for this service.


Do you shear llamas and/or alpacas?

No. I am happy to recommend other, experienced shearers who shear llama and alpaca.


Do you do oral drenching (deworming)?

Yes, with some caveats. I only have experience with liquid drench administered via drenching gun (oral syringe). I find this process works best and goes much faster when we can work as a team of at least two people. This enables one person to fill the drenching gun with the appropriate quantity of drench for each animal (depending on weight) and another person to administer it, which must be done carefully.

Please note that you must have all of the necessary drenching equipment (drugs/drench/wormer in sufficient quantity, drenching gun(s) in good condition) and each animal’s weight in order to formulate the proper dose. I am of the “weigh, don’t guess” school of thought: if you do not know how much your sheep weighs and have no scale to determine it, I cannot advise guessing.

As for shearing, it is generally advisable to withhold food and water for at least 12 hours prior to drenching.


How much do you charge? What forms of payment do you accept?

I accept cash only, please, and have the following rates:

  • Set-up fee: $45-$75 (varies according to travel distance and time, but $45 is my minimum)
  • Shearing fee: $10-15 per head on average:
  • 1-5 sheep: $15 each
  • 6-15 sheep: $12 each
  • 16-20 sheep: $10 each
  • Additional $5: I charge an additional $5 per head if your sheep has horns, is a ram, or is in poor condition (obese or with 18+ months of wool growth)
  • Hoof trimming: $5/head

Can you skirt my fleece?

Yes, and I can also teach you how to do so. I will need a skirting table or chicken wire on a frame in order to skirt properly. If such is not available, I can minimally skirt your fleece on a clean canvas that I carry with me.


Do you assist with lambing?

Yes, though I assist with post-lambing ranch needs like pen cleaning, weighing and so on more than lambing itself. I’m of the no-to-low human intervention school of thought when it comes to lambing, though there are exceptions. Some breeds require more human intervention due to a history of… human intervention. Merino sheep, for instance, are not typically good mothers and lambs often need to be bottle fed.

Lamb taking a few salt licks of my chin post vaccination, before being returned to mom and the rest of the flock.

Lamb taking a few salt licks of my chin post vaccination, before being returned to mom and the rest of the flock.


Do you really live in San Francisco?!

Yes. That’s just how it worked out when I moved to California to be with the man who became my husband. Believe it or not, San Francisco is a very convenient location for a sheep shearer. I’m centrally located to serve wool producers as far north as Ukiah (and farther, by arrangement); as far east as Lake County, Davis, Sacramento, Vacaville, Dixon, Hayward, Castro Valley, and more; and as far south as Gilroy. Every time I consider moving someplace else, I realize it would mean giving up at least one of my service areas, so I am in San Francisco for the foreseeable future.


Are you the same Stephany from the Indiegogo campaign for the wool mill?

I sure am! I serve as the campaign manager and a point of contact for Mendocino Wool & Fiber, a new wool mill in Ukiah, CA started by shearer Matt Gilbert and his wife, Sarah Gilbert. You can learn more about the mill and our latest updates at our Indiegogo campaign page or on Facebook. We’re grateful for your interest and support.

24 Responses to “Sheep Shearing, Wool and Ranch Services”

  1. ric plummer

    i have 4 sheep to be sheared! they were last sheared june of 2013. my shearer moved and did not leave forwarding address or number. the weekends work great and your prices look very fair. looking forward to hearing from you!

    Thanks, Ric

    Reply
    • anysteph

      Hi Ric! I’ll email you directly. Thank you kindly for your inquiry!

      Reply
  2. Becky Sims

    Would you come as far as Siskiyou County (Yreka, Montague and Fort Jones areas)? We have a difficult time finding a shearer for our smaller flocks.

    Reply
    • anysteph

      I may be able to manage that if I plan in advance, depending on when you need them done by. I’ll email you some possibilities directly. I’ll be shearing up near the Lost Coast in mid June, which is closer, so perhaps I can wrap it in with that trip.

      Reply
  3. Peggy Emrey

    Do you shear goats? I live in Montara, on the coastside between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay. I have a herd of 18 Pygora goats, including 2 bucks, that are in need of shearing before the weather gets bad. Just lost my former goat keeper, and I’m not as young as I used to be. They’ve all been sheared many times, though I usually use a stand to hold them, since I’ve never been strong enough to “manhandle” them as you do sheep. I keep the fleeces for handspinning, if I can get them off the goat before they mat.
    Thanks!
    Peggy Emrey
    Montara, CA 94037
    650-728-5610

    Reply
  4. Tricia Petersen

    Hi Stephany!

    I have 3 Babydoll sheep who were last sheared around July 2015 before I acquired them. I am in Fremont. I have 2 ewes and 1 ram. One of my ewe just lambed on the 21st and the other one is due to lamb in the coming weeks. So naturally, I really want to have her sheared before then. And hooves, too. I really hope you can help! I know that they are known for their fleece so I would really love to learn more in general about the wool.

    Fremont, CA 94539
    415.819.8278

    Reply
    • anysteph

      Hi Tricia — I replied to your email. Thanks for the inquiry!

      Reply
    • anysteph

      Hi Monika, I have sheared out that way, but with my current schedule it’s a bit tough. I’m inquiring with other shearers I know to see if I can find someone for you. I’ll also send you an email. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  5. Karen

    Hello. I live in Woodside, just north of Palo Alto and have two alpacas which need to be sheared. Would you be so kind as to recommend someone to do this for me.

    Thank you so much.

    Reply
  6. Katrina Kirkham

    Hi Stephany: I’m in need of a shearer in Napa County. Do you think you can help? We can add some wine in as an added incentive for making the trip! If not, can you recommend someone?

    Keep up the good work!

    Katrina

    Reply
  7. Dannie baker

    Hi! I live in Castro valley and have some sheep that need to get sheared. Do you come out this way? Thanks so much!

    -Dannie

    Reply
  8. Maddee Ickes

    Hi! Please email me when you get the chance. I have a 6 month old sheep who needs to be shorn.

    Reply
  9. M. E. Reed

    Hi, I have two Angora Goats that were recently sheared, but would like to know if you might be available to shear them in late September? (Planning ahead!) Thanks for letting me know if you would consider Angora Goats as part of your expanding repertoire!

    Reply
  10. David Ghirarduzzi

    Hi, I live in San Joaquin county between stockton and Lodi,

    We have three sheep that are in need of shearing. Last sheared in 2014. Had appts with a sheep shearer who never showed up last year and it has been close to impossible to find someone.

    Can you help us out? if so, that would be great. If not can you make a referral to someone?

    Reply
  11. Deborah Lage

    Stephany, I was trying to reach you about farm sitting, can you contact me at your earliest convenience !!

    Reply
  12. Liz Alaniz

    Hi stephany,
    I am out in San LuisOobispo County and have two babydoll sheep in serious need of grooming . New to area, so wondering if you have any referrals for me.

    Thanks, Liz

    Reply
  13. Ray

    Hey Stephany,
    I would like to ask some advice about becoming a sheep shearer. I live in far northern California, red bluff area, and there seems to be a shearer shortage here. I really like sheep and would like to start a business like yours for the micro farmer/ homesteading folks out here. Any advice you can lend would be rad. Thanks for your time.
    Ray ray redding

    Reply
  14. Deb Schoenberg

    Hi Stephany,

    I am a new owner of three ewes – two CVM (we think) and a Lincoln Longwool. All need shearing this year but don’t when they were sheared last. The Lincoln is a big girl but the other two are medium sized. I’m between Elverta and Pleasant Grove, off hwy 99/70 near the Sacto airport. would love to hear from you about getting my girls shorn……raise alpacas so know some about fleece, but not sheep fleece.

    Reply
  15. Tim

    Hi I live in Bakersfield Ca I have 10 Dorper Sheep too shear can you help me or know someone in Bakersfield please contact me. Thank You

    Reply
  16. Angie Jeffries

    Hi Stephany –
    My wonderful shearer can no longer come to Bakersfield, CA – might you ever consider coming down this far south? I found someone to do my 2 pets this past June 2017 – but would rather have YOU. I have a wether southdown/cheviot mix and a harlequin ewe (4 and 2 years old) – they are on dry lot.

    Reply
    • anysteph

      Hi Angie: Thanks for the inquiry. I’m behind on blog based ones. My apologies! I am always looking for an excuse to swing through Bakersfield and visit the folks at Roswell Wool, so if I can put enough work together in the area it may be worth the trip. I believe Trevor Hollenback works in that vicinity too, and he is utterly top-notch, New Zealand trained. I’ve learned a lot from him. You can find him at http://trevorhollenback.com/.

      Reply

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