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Maintaining Flock Hygiene with Dagging

Maintaining Flock Hygiene with Dagging

Loz Dorey |

Dagging, also known as crutching, is the process of clipping the wet and dirty wool from around the tail and rear end of the sheep to help to keep the fleece in the best condition. Farmers do this to get rid of the ‘dags’ (mucky wool) to maintain the hygiene of the sheep and keep the area from the hocks, crutch, under the tail and down the hindlegs clean, as this area can get particularly dirty when the herd are at pasture or suffer a bout of scouring.  

 

WHY DAG AND WHEN?

Dagging around the tail also helps to keep a clear view of this area when it comes to lambing time and can possibly help to facilitate tupping. The most crucial reason for keeping the tail and surrounding wool short and clean is to prevent and incidence of blowfly strike. In the warmer months from Spring to Autumn (occasionally running into December) wet or dirty fleece attract the flies who then lay their eggs in the mucky fleece. With just a few hours, the eggs hatch resulting in an infestation of maggots which can cause great suffering to the sheep.  Flystrike is a significant economic cost for farmers, so prevention is a key part of effective husbandry.  

Its best to dag sheep before they get too mucky. Most farmers choose to dag in the Spring as the temperatures begin to rise, before or after lambing and some may opt to dag again in the early Autumn. Dagging can be carried out using hand shears or for a quick and efficient process, mechanical shears are often adopted and for servicing larger flocks. At Masterclip, we offer a range of mains powered and cordless mechanical shears, to suit small or large flocks for fleece maintenance throughout the year.  

 

Above: Masterclip Ewe 2000 lightweight shears

BEST SHEARS FOR SMALL FLOCKS

For smaller numbers of sheep, our Ewe 2000 mains powered shears are the ideal lightweight shear for full shearing and dagging. This handset has a traditional style shearing head which can be used with straight toothed dagging blades or specialist shearing blades with a curved point to help follow the contours of the animal when caring out a full shear. For novices, the dagging blades can also be used for shearing and multiple blades can be purchased from Masterclip.  

For a cordless solution, the HD Roamer battery shears are a great handy pair of shears to dag anywhere, even out in the pasture. The flexibility of cordless shears means that if a sheep spotted in the field with a case of flystrike on the fleece, it can be dealt with quickly and efficiently outside without the need to bring it in. The HD Roamer clipper comes with 2 rechargeable batteries so you will always have a spare battery on hand, and extras may also be purchased if needed. The HD Roamer shears are used with an A2 livestock blade for shearing and dagging sheep, llamas, alpacas and clipping dirty cattle. We also offer a range of other A2 clipping blades for this clipper model, and a multiblade package for clipping other livestock such as horses, ponies, donkeys and show cattle.  

 

Waffle the sheep (IG @mablesfriends) Shearing with the cordless HD Roamer clippers

POWERFUL, HEAVY DUTY SHEARS

For shearing and dagging larger flocks, the Ram 3000 shears are a powerful, heavy-duty shear with a traditional shearing head for full shearing and dagging many sheep, back-to-back. This model too can be used with either the straight toothed dagging blades or curved shearing blades. Both the Ewe 2000 and Ram 3000 shears can also be purchased with an additional clipping head to allow use with a wide selection of A2 blades for clipping cattle and other livestock.

Above: Shearing with the powerful Ram 3000 shears

For heavy duty, cordless dagging the Masterclip Outback shears are suitable for both small and large flocks of sheep. With a traditional style head, these shears can be used with both dagging and shearing blades. A superb choice if you need a handy, powerful, cable free clipper that is compatible with an existing shears and traditional dagging and shearing blades. With 2 rechargeable batteries, this clipper gives up to 1 hour shearing time per battery. Another great pair of shears to have handy when inspecting sheep out at pasture and dag in situ.  

 

The Masterclip cordless Outback shears

DAGGING ACCESSORIES

If you have a few sheep to clean up, we recommend dagging the cleanest animals first saving the dirtiest jobs until last. This will help to preserve the sharpness of your clipper blades. Alongside clipper oil, It’s advised to always have some Andis 5-in-1 blade care spray to hand as not only will this lubricate and keep the blades clean, but the added disinfectant properties will also help to maintain hygiene between animals. Carrying extra blades is always a good idea for shearing and dagging so that always have spares to swap to, should a blade start to dull mid-shear. For mains powered shears, always used with an RCD for safety. Along with these accessories, extra batteries for cordless clippers can be readily purchased from Masterclip for the Outback and HD Roamer clippers.

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