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 pooh! and reduces the risk of ‘flystrike’ -when a fly ‘blows’ (lays its eggs) on a sheep (not a nice thing as the eggs hatch into maggots and start eating the sheep, often resulting in blood poisoning and death!).
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, but normally you have to crutch 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, it is also common to do ‘Drenching’ (-administering worm medicine). Another important time for crutching is several weeks before the ewes (-the mother sheep-) give birth to their babies (-lambs-). Then, the baby lambs can find the udder full of milk much more easily! While the sheep are being handled, it is also best to vaccinate the mothers, and this medicine is passed through to the unborn lamb.
During the summer months you have to keep a watchful eye out for flystrike, and if a sheep is dirty, you will need to crutch it yet again! Below are pictures of 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!