Shorn the sheep

Whatever your view on animal products, we can surely all agree that animals shouldn’t suffer at the hands of humans at all. This is obvious in cases of medical and cosmetics research as well as butchery, but what about more traditional applications, like sheep shearing for example?

During shearing a sheep is caught from the catching pen and put on a shearing board. It is shorn using a mechanical handpiece. The wool is removed by following an efficient set of movements, either the Bowen Technique or the Tally-Hi method. Sheep are said to struggle less using the Tally-Hi method, reducing strain on the shearer and there is a saving of about 30 seconds in shearing each one.

Most shearers today are paid per sheep rather than by the hour. Some manage to shear up to and even more than 200 sheep per day. This, added to the fact that there are no requirements for formal training or accreditation, has led animal welfare organisations to raise concerns over the welfare of the sheep as speed is prioritised over precision and care for the animal.

The challenge

The challenge this month then is to come up with a form of technology that makes sheep shearing more efficient for the shearer and less stressful for the sheep. Let your imagination run wild with this one, the more out there the better!

As always, we have an idea in mind that will be published in the April issue of Eureka! Until then, leave your ideas in the comments of the Coffee Time Challenge section of the web site or email the editor: