Are ewe ready for some shearing and sheepdogs?

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Both the North American Sheepdog Trial Preliminaries and National Sheep Shearing Championships began at 10 a.m. at the Kjerstad Event Center Thursday.

Jaelyn QuintanaAbout 30 sheep shearers from around the region were competing for points based on a few different factors, as described by Jaelyn Quintana, SDSU Sheep Field Specialist.

“One is speed, obviously, when these shearers are shearing you know thousands of head, we don’t want it to have to take multiple days. So speed is part of it, but also accuracy, making sure that they’re getting that wool off clean,” Quintana explains. “One of the big things is that our wool is long enough, so we don’t want them having to go over it twice.”

Points are of course deducted for any nicks are given to the sheep during the process. Once the wool is removed, it’s gathered, baled, and processed. In fact, about 20 percent of the wool produced in America comes out of Belle Fourche.

Quintana also discussed what the wool is used for, noting that American military dress uniforms are made from local wool.

Sheep Shearing“What’s kind of exciting is that we’ve seen a big increase in actually athletic wear and base layers made out of wool,” she says. “Our really fine wool type sheep like these girls here actually produce wool that is fine enough for us that we can wear it against our skin and it’s not your typical scratchy wool that we think about.”

Sheepdog Trials took place in the arena too, where handlers and dogs penned sheep and led them through various obstacles.

Dogs are judged on their response to their owners cues, and how effectively they can move the sheep around.

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