Rusutsu Farm’s sheep shearing begins as the Sakura blossoms

On May 10th, with the end of Golden Week and the cherry blossom in full bloom spring has arrived in Hokkaido. After the harsh winter season, the Rusutsu sheep are sheared to remove their thick winter coats and prepare them for the warmer summer months ahead. This event takes place every spring here in Rusutsu.

Sheep say ‘Sayonara’ to their winter coats.

It takes approximately 3 days to cut Rusutsu’s 400 sheep. As many of the sheep are nursing newly born lambs and the Rusutsu staff lack the man power and expertise, specialists are brought in from all around japan for this crucial seasonal job.

Sheep shearing requires skill and strength

The clippers required for shearing weigh about 2KG and vibrate at roughly 3000 RPM per minute. This make it tough for an armature just to hold the clippers. Experience specialists with good physical strength are required for this task in order to restrain the sheep and remove the winter coat in one large piece.

Surprisingly speedy shearing –only 3 minutes per sheep

Typically, four specialists will cut side by side, with each specialist able to restrain and shear a sheep in under 3 minutes. Rusutsu staff also assist with shearing, however, due to the lack of experience 2 staff are required per sheep. One staff uses the clippers to shear while the other staff member restrains the sheep, however typically this takes untrained staff around 10 minutes per sheep. The staff lacks the skill to remove the winter coat in one piece. Every year with experience the staff will improve but it takes a long time to become a specialist in this area.

Gentle sheep

Typically sheep become wary when strangers approach or the atmosphere charges. Speed is required to smoothly restrain the sheep and flip them onto their backs ready to be sheared. If a sheep is not firmly held it may become distressed or escape on a rampage. However each sheep has a unique personality therefore great care is always required

Completion of sheering

Once the shearing process has been complete the sheep’s winter coat can be smoothly removed in 1 large piece.

Day 1 Progress

Once removed, the sheep coats are sorted by type, gender, and age. The first day is calculated to be 175 coats which are roughly 43 per person. Storing the coats into bags is hard work with the heavy coats causing muscle pain for the hard-working staff.

A New Summer Look for the Sheep

Once the sheering process is complete the sheep are no longer confused and soon adapt to their refreshing new summer look. With the weight of the winter coat lifted the sheep are now ready to enjoy the summer weather their cool new summer haircut.

Sheep Coats are transformed into ‘RUSUTSU WOOL’

Once the winter coats have been sheared, the coats are cleaned to remove dirt before being thoroughly washed with a special detergent to transform the coat ready to be used in a original ‘Rusutsu Wool’ project. Pick up your own unique Rustusu Wool product on your next visit for a unique natural Rusutsu souvenir.