General Information

The Montana State University Extension Sheep Program and Montana Wool Growers Association are offering a beginner Wool Harvesting School at the Hollenbeck Ranch in Molt.

This hands-on shearing course is intended for the beginner/novice shearer. It is especially designed to teach you how to shear sheep so that you will maintain a quality wool clip and minimize stress to both you and the sheep. In addition, you will learn about the shearing machine; how to care for and maintain the hand piece; and how to sharpen combs and cutters.

When: Thursday, Oct. 13 - Sunday, Oct. 16


To ensure the best experience for students, class size is limited to 16 students per session. Applicants under 16 years of age must have prior instructor approval. Accepted applicants will receive more detailed information about the workshop.

Important Information:

This initial fee grants you free access to future MSU-sponsored wool harvesting schools depending on your shearing ability. Many first-time students find it beneficial to repeat the beginner school the following year. If you can shear five sheep an hour, you may qualify to attend higher-level schools offered by MSU. 

Checks should be made to Montana Wool Growers Association and paid on the first day of the school.

Scott Lammers, Manager for Center of the Nation Wool

Brent Roeder, MSU Extension Sheep Specialist

Wade Kopren, Sheep producer, professional shearing instructor

Thursday, Oct. 13

1 p.m.  Meet at Center of the Nation Wool Warehouse (119 S. 25th St, Billings, MT)

1:30 p.m.  Welcome and Introductions

Classroom Instruction:

  1. Principles of Wool Harvesting and Wool Industry
  2. Animal Welfare
  3. Business Finance and Labor Laws
  4. Shearing Gear & Shearing Equipment Setup

5 p.m. Wrap up

Dinner: On your own

Friday-Sunday, October 14-16

6 a.m.: No-host breakfast at the Tipsy Cow

7 a.m.: Breakup into carpool groups and leave hotel

7:45 a.m.: Arrive at Hollenbeck Ranch (212 Oil Well Rd, Molt, MT)

Questions and Review

Break into Shearing Partner Groups

8:30 a.m.: Shearing Instruction and Practice (breaks as needed)

12 .p.m. Lunch (we provide)

12:45 p.m. Shearing Instruction and Practice (breaks as needed)

3 p.m.: Sharpening, Maintenance and Comb and Cutter Selection

5 p.m. Wrap Up

Dinner: On your own with shearing mates in Billings

Sunday: We generally wrap by noon to allow students travel time to get home before dark.

Shearing is very physically demanding work and you will need to be able to bend over for periods of up to 15 minutes while holding and shearing the sheep. It requires the ability to comfortably lift 50-60 pounds chest high. Shearing requires stamina, so you should be able to do such tasks as load a pickup with small square hay bales without stopping or run for 15 minutes without stopping.  

If you need a reasonable accommodation in order to be able to meet these physical requirements, please call Denise Hoepfner at 406-994-3415.