Sheep shearing brought to Black Hills Stock Show
Rapid City, SD — Visitors packed the seats to watch some of the best sheep shearers in the world on sheep day at the Black Hills Stock Show work the wool. While cattle play a large role in the ranching industry, sheep are also raised and used for profit, and certain breeds like the rambouillet have multiple purposes. Trent Turbiville, rancher and co-owner of the rambouillet sheep said, “It’s a dual purpose breed, mainly they’re know for their wool, as far as fineness, but the main set of income is actually off the meat of the sheep.”
There was also a sheep shearing competition where competitors used both manual and electric shears on sheep. Competitors are judged on not just timing, but also on how clean the end result is. It may not look like fun for the sheep, but shearing is necessary for the health of the sheep, and is done by experienced shearers.
Competitor Loren Opstedahl, who is also a national sheep shearing champion said,
“Shearing, number one, is done usually once a year per sheep, and they need it done because you get too much wool and flies, and dirty, and so it is a needed thing for sheep. As a shearer we learn to handle the sheep properly so they’re actually quite comfortable in the whole process. And there’s times where you get one that’s just not in the mood for the thing today, but a lot of experience always goes with it.”
Along with the shearing competition, there were lambs from Ollila ranch for petting, and a veterinarian on hand for a live ultrasound on a pregnant ewe. The Ollila family have been ranching for years, and even their 9-year-old son Finn raises his own lamb. Holly Ollila spoke of the importance of exposing the public to family ranching in South Dakota.
“We think it’s important to bring our sheep and show people the family side of agriculture, that we really care and take care of our livestock very well and they’re a part of our family too. So we always think that this is a great way at the stock show to show people that side of the industry.”
Right outside the arena, there was also a vendor sampling lamb and a group of wool spinners.