Before we started raising sheep, I didn’t even know Premier existed. That was a much brighter time for our checkbook.
All joking aside, I’ve learned a lot about sheep and sheep equipment in the few years we’ve had our flock. When it comes to sheep equipment, especially in terms of a beginning showman, there can be lots of questions about what really constitutes necessary. I wanted to take a few minutes to share my perspectives.
When I start any project, I like to break things down into categories. For the sake of discussing show equipment, I thought it would be worthwhile to talk about essentials and also big ticket items once you decide you’re in for the long haul for lamb projects. That’s how I would approach livestock projects with my own kids, and it’s how I would suggest any beginning lamb family looks at things. There would be nothing more disappointing than spending thousands of dollars on supplies, only to find out that your child really doesn’t even like the project.
So, here we go! (Disclaimer: These items are just suggestions. I’m not getting paid to recommend these, nor do I proclaim them to be the best. My recommendations all come from Sullivan’s for this post, because they have just about every show supply you would need. Weaver Livestock is another great, one-stop shop. I mentioned Premier at the beginning of this post. They have lots of supplies, but they may not have all of the show-specific supplies you’re looking for.)
- Livestock Shampoo
- So many options! Here’s a basic item to get you started. Price: $10 should buy something that could last a few years if you’re only washing a few animals.
- Lamb Tube (sometimes called a sock)
- A tube is a great item to have on hand. After you wash your lamb, put the tube on, and it will help keep it clean until show. Cost: $10 will get you a basic tube.
- You’ll need a few brushes to get you started. I would suggest looking at a wool card (or a poodle card) as well as a body brush. You’ll want something to help with grooming, washing, and something to slide in your pocket for show day. Cost: I would plan to spend about $30 on brushes.
Put 9 lamb people in a room, and you’ll probably get 11 different ideas of what’s truly necessary for a beginning showman. The list above is my opinion of necessary. You’re looking at about $70. There are tons of other items that would be nice or could make your life helpful, but to simply complete your project, that’s what I think it takes. Let’s move on to some of those other, big purchase, long-term items.
Big Ticket Items
- Trimming Stand
- A stand has many purposes. Obviously, as the name implies, you can trim sheep on it. It’s also handy for washing or even working legs. Here’s a basic stand that would get you started. Cost: approximately $300.
- I did not list these as an essential item. Although it is necessary to shear your lambs for comfort and for show, it is possible to find someone else to do that for you, if you’re not quite ready to make the investment. Here’s an example of nice clippers. You will need a head to shear the wool initially as well as blades to slick shear. Cost: approximately $500 for the clippers and different blades.
- Before shearing, it helps the process tremendously if you wash and blow dry your animal. This helps take some of the dirt out of the wool to make it easier on the clippers. This is a high-end blower, although there are more affordable options, too. Cost: $400.
- A scale can really help you monitor your animal’s growth. It’s helpful to be able to adjust the amount you’re feeding. I didn’t find quite what I was looking for on Sullivan, so this recommendation comes from Amazon. Cost: $400.
The items above would be used by just about any showman who intends to stick with a lamb project for several years. The big ticket items will cost approximately $1600. However, a few things to keep in mind on these items:
- If you purchase them new, they should last for at least the 10 years you plan to show lambs.
- These items are fairly easy to find in nice, used condition. Check online sale groups or ask retiring junior fair exhibitors what they have.
- Some of these items could easily be shared with another family. For example, both of you aren’t going to need clippers every day.
As with anything, you can make varying degrees of investment. At the very least, you’ll need the essential items, but many of the big ticket items can be worked up to, or if you plan to show one lamb at the county fair every year, you might get away with not all of them. My best advice is to work into the project and to make purchases as you need them. Your checkbook will thank you.