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What Are Livestock Clippers?

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  • Written By: Cindy Quarters
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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When preparing an animal for show, it is common to trim excess hair so that the animal’s conformation is more easily seen. This typically requires the use of powerful, heavy-duty clippers. These are commonly referred to as livestock clippers, and can be used on many different kinds of animals. Livestock clippers vary in size, power and features. They can be selected for use on one specific type of animal or, for people who have different types of livestock, a more general-purpose clipper may be chosen.

Livestock clippers with a powerful, self-cooling motor are usually needed for clipping sheep. These clippers have interchangeable blades and won’t overheat when used for shearing the sheep or clipping them for show. Shearing generally involves removing the wool down to the skin, with the focus on preserving the wool, not the finished appearance of the sheep. This is usually done once a year and the sheep may look a bit ragged afterward. Show clipping is most commonly performed on lambs, with the goal of leaving a sleek layer of wool that shows off the animal’s build.

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Other animals are also often groomed with livestock clippers to prepare them to be shown. Goats, horses and cattle are often clipped just before exhibition so that the judges can get a good look at how they are built and how they move. The livestock clippers used for very large animals need to be powerful and able to run a long time without overheating, but usually don’t need to be quite as sturdy as those used on sheep. Goat clippers need even less power, since they are usually used on dairy goats that have a minimum amount of hair to trim.

Livestock clippers are best if the blades are easily interchangeable, but blades that snap on and off may snag in an animal’s coat and come off at the wrong time. It is generally best if the blades are screwed on or use a clamping system to hold them in place. It is also a good idea to have backup blades when grooming livestock, so in case one becomes dull or damaged it can quickly be replaced and the grooming can continue.

Some types of livestock clippers are cordless, but these are typically used for small jobs such as neatening up a horse’s mane, trimming faces or grooming around feet. Such clippers may lose their charge partway through a big job, and it is not practical to recharge them while the animal waits. For large animals, thick coats or for working on more than one animal, plug-in livestock clippers are usually a better choice, since these maintain a consistent level of power.

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