In Savoie, the sheep give themselves a makeover before going up to the mountain pastures

It is almost the end of the sheep shearing period, in the valley and in the mountains, especially for thea Thônes and Marthod breed. In Savoie, the majority of breeders only have their herd sheared once a year, except those who raise this charismatic breed of Savoyard herds. The Thônes and Marthod, if you don’t know their name, you inevitably recognize them: they are these famous white sheep with long hair and black tips of ears, muzzle and eye contours. Meeting with Alexandre, a young shearer, who is launching into the profession.

“Before I had a flock and I couldn’t find a shearer, so I gave it a go” – Alexandre, shearer

This is how Alexandre decided to professionalize. He had a herd in Isère from which he had to part for personal reasons, but he had already acquired a taste for the profession. “What I like is contact with animals and breeders. They are passionate people who like a job well done. I did an internship, training with Sheep Shearers Association and I continue to train on different breeds of sheep, with different shearers all over France“.

Before after © Radio France
Anabelle Gallotti

A job of passion: “I shear sheep, as if they were my own”

When he arrives at a breeder Alexandre installs his equipment: a wooden floor measuring a little over a square meter, his electric mower, connected to a steel arm so that it is easily accessible. “It’s tricky to shear a sheep, you can injure the animal or hurt yourself. I have the shearer in one hand and with the other I stretch the skin“. A wrong move can lead to cuts, particularly in places such as the contours of the eyes, the horns, the breasts or the genitals. Shearing is sometimes very delicate also on males.
The profession of sheep shearer has the specificity of being sporty and spectacular. And the conclusion for the breeders who call on these professionals: “a well-shorn Thônes and Marthod ewe: it’s the pleasure of knowing that she will have a good summer in the mountain pastures”.

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