The UK sheep industry is facing a difficult shearing season, as the Covid-19 crisis makes it highly unlikely that the usual influx of highly skilled overseas shearers will be able to travel to the UK.
It is vitally important, to safeguard the health and welfare of the British sheep flock, that we carry out shearing at certain times of the year to minimise the risk of heat stress and fly strike. It is estimated overseas shearers usually shear about 20% of the UK flock, leaving a huge hole in resource this season. However, industry organisations are working together to try and ensure that shearing can go ahead using only UK shearers.
The NAAC is hosting a matchmaking register on-line to bring together shearing contractors, who are potentially missing whole teams of overseas shearers, with skilled, proficient UK shearers to try and get the season completed. Shearers are encouraged to come forward and register whether they can give a month of time or a day!
The organisations, in partnership, are encouraging farmers to get in touch with their usual contractor to organise their shearing.
Commenting, Jill Hewitt, NAAC Chief Executive said, ‘Shearing contractors have a dual role in this Covid-19 crisis to keep shearers and customers safe, whilst supporting and providing a vital operation for sheep farmers. It is likely to be a more difficult, possibly extended season, and with Covid-19 restrictions in place, we will need more pre-planning on farms but we can do this if we all work together.’
Gareth Jones, Head of Producer Marketing at British Wool added, ‘We need the support of UK shearers and it is important that proficient individuals step forward to help in this national effort to ensure that sheep are shorn to a high standard, within necessary timescales, to avoid potential animal welfare problems.’
The website can be viewed here.