Gietzen Sheep Shearing - History

Sheep Shearer Hilary Gietzen - Shearing Sheep History of Gietzen Sheep Shearing

Gietzen Sheep Shearing began in 1978 when I was a sophomore in high school at Glen Ullin, N.D. I had a few sheep when I was growing up, and it was always difficult to get someone to shear them. I finally decided to shear them myself, so I put an ad in the paper for equipment, and went to a two-day sheep shearing school. My intention was to shear for hire, only enough sheep to pay for my equipment. I ended up shearing 860 head the first year. The first days, 25 head was all I could do. The last day that year I made it up to 60 head in one day.

I didn’t get enough sheep to pay my for shearing equipment the first year, so I was committed to doing it a second year. After the second year, I enjoyed the job and decided to continue. My junior and senior years, I sheared enough to pay for the first year of college. I went to college in Denver, Colorado where I would shear in feedlots on weekends. I took off the last quarter of school to come home to shear. I advertised throughout the whole state, but found work northwest of Minot, where there was an old shearer wanting to retire. 

As the years went by, I was getting to know more people, and getting a route established shearing sheep in the Minot area. In 1986, I took a feedlot job at Oriska, N.D, where I had several thousand head. It was there I had my first day of shearing over 300 head. In 1988 I had the opportunity to shear in New Zealand; I went to an advanced shearing school, and then I sheared on a crew. The sheep in the north island of New Zealand shear easy and fast. I was able to shear about 40-45 per hour. The next year I went to Western Australia, where I worked with fine wool merinos with wrinkled necks, I couldn’t get big numbers only 15-20 per hour, but the experience on the fine wool has been helpful through the years. I ended up working two seasons in New Zealand and two seasons in Australia

In 1989, I added an airplane to the business, it never really paid off, but it made the farther jobs more fun to go too. I was also shearing in a lot of contests, and was doing a lot of traveling for that. The prize money from the competition usually paid for the trip.

After my daughter was born in 1992, I never went back to the South Pacific, but took shorter trips, only 3-4 weeks, shearing in the United Kingdom and northwestern Europe. I also worked in Mexico and Canada. 

This last season made it 28 years of shearing. I have a route established with about 300 regular customers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, and Iowa. I shear alone most of the time, shearing around 200 on an average day. By shearing alone, I can operate more efficiently, shearing more sheep with less miles of driving. Most farmers like me to come alone because it takes less help. We all know how hard it is to hire help when you mention shearing sheep. Most flocks of sheep I shear are between 200 and 500 head, however, I do several flocks around 100 sheep, recently did a flock of over 2200, and a feedlot with more than 5000. I also do a lot of small flocks to fill up the day. 

I would say the main reason for my success in this business is because of quality workmanship and dependability. I am looking forward to many more years of shearing. 

Hilary Gietzen
Sheep Shearing

4600 Hwy 52 S. Lot 17
Minot, ND 58701-2215

701-838-9624 Minot
701-282-2191 Fargo