Industry organisations have produced joint guidance on sheep shearing to remind farmers and professional contractors to work together to ensure that sheep are handled appropriately during shearing.
The guide explains and emphasises everyone’s responsibilities, so that every step from the presentation of sheep on farm, through to livestock handling and the shearing process is well-planned, organised and calmly implemented.
“The Government’s sheep welfare code states that you should remove the fleece from all mature sheep at least once a year,” explained Dafydd Jarrett of NFU Cymru. “Many farmers are qualified shearers in their own right, whilst others choose to use professional contractors, but all seek to ensure the highest standards of welfare are constantly met.”
Phil Stocker, CEO of the National Sheep Association (NSA) commented: “Wool is one of the most natural and sustainable fibres on earth and the practice of shearing is an essential part of the process that also improves the welfare of sheep. This industry guidance is a valuable checklist that will help farmers and shearers to prepare in advance so that the entire operation goes as smoothly and efficiently as possible.”
“Shearing is essential for reducing the likelihood of disease and those parasitic infections which cause health and welfare problems for sheep. Sheep keepers in Britain adhere to rigorous, scientifically validated animal welfare regulations and this guidance reinforces the commitment by industry to ensure that shearing is conducted to very high standards,” clarified Dr Hazel Wright, Senior Policy Officer, Farmers’ Union of Wales.
“Shearing is a professional job that takes significant skill,” expanded Jill Hewitt Technical Consultant at the NAAC. “Shearers take their responsibility to protect animal welfare very seriously and it will be a positive step to remind everyone of the importance of working together.”
British Wool is the approved provider for shearing training in the UK. Gareth Jones, Producer Marketing Manager said: “British Wool is proud of the quantity and quality of shearers in the UK, with over 800 candidates participating in courses throughout 2018. British Wool is committed to continuous development of our training programme, providing the next generation of shearers with the opportunity to learn a traditional rural skill that is vital for the UK sheep industry.”