on a NEW ZEALAND SHEEP FARM
The term “crutching” means to shear the wool off around the sheep’s bottom area. This is a necessary job as it especially keeps the sheep clean of faeces (pooh!) and reduces the risk of ‘flystrike’ -when a fly ‘blows’ (lays its eggs) on a sheep. [more about this on our SHEEP page]
Crutching is done 2-3 times a year (depending on the breed of sheep and locality of the farm). Sheep with longer wool need to be cleaned more regularly, and farms in cooler climates aren’t as at much risk of getting flies. On our Auckland sheep farm we have to crutch our sheep about 3 times a year.
One of the most important times for crutching is a few weeks before the sheep are fully shorn. This tidies the sheep up and allows the shearer to go much faster. While the sheep are being handled, we also do ‘Drenching’ (-administering worm medicine). Another important time for crutching is several weeks before the ewes (mother sheep) give birth. Then, the baby lambs can find the udder full of milk! While the sheep are being handled, we also vaccinate the mothers, and this medicine is passed through to the unborn lamb.
During the summer months we have to keep a watchful eye out for flystrike, and if a sheep is dirty, we will crutch it yet again. Below are pictures of Stuart crutching a sheep. The pooh wool that comes off the sheep are called ‘dags’. Dags are processed into a pelletised form and used as organic fertiliser….great for aiding the growth of your fruit and vegetables!
See these other interesting pages about New Zealand sheep, and our farm;