The Sheep Shearer From Cedaredge

Jun 10, 2014

For nearly a decade, Doug Hamilton has put on sheep shearing demonstrations at the Sheep Dog Trials in Hotchkiss. 

Hamilton gave a demonstration last month at the trials. 

"I thought it was kind of silly the first time they asked [me to do this] because when I grew up everybody had something to do with sheep but I realized that not a lot of people [have] seen that anymore," Hamilton, a professional sheep shearer, said. 

Ralph Kathrein, a Montrose resident, said he was impressed by Hamilton's skill.

"I thought the man was an expert," he said. "No blood on the sheep and the fleece came off pretty much in one piece."

Kathrein also brought his granddaughter Haddy to the event. 

"I like sheep," she said. Haddy also described the demonstration as "cool". 

Hamilton started shearing sheep with his father at the age of 16. Fifty years later, the 66-year-old Cedaredge resident said business is slower than it used to be. 

"Now all I do is shear the small farm flocks and there's not very many left," he said. "I probably shear 90 percent of the small bunches in a four county area." 

Hamilton said he's unsure about the future of small-scale shearing operations in the Southwest. 

"We are seeing a change in the industry," he said. "We're seeing more sheep in the Midwest and the East, and we are seeing fewer and fewer sheep in the mountain states, especially in Arizona and New Mexico."

He said farmers are moving towards hair sheep breeds that do not need to be shorn. 

"And more people are going to goats," Hamilton said.