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Sheep shearing. Sheep waiting to be sheared by a local farmer.

An Introduction to Sheep Shearing

Monday 10 August, 2020, by Briony Freeman

Louise Robinson kindly allowed us to film this video of her shearing some of her flock of Swaledale sheep. We filmed this video during the Covid-19 pandemic, on our mobile phones, following all social distancing guidelines.

We wanted to provide insight into the hard work that continues despite an ongoing global pandemic. For the sake of animal welfare and food production, our hard working farmers continue – whatever the weather, whatever the crisis – to look after their stock to the highest of standards.

Louise’s sheep spend much of the year grazing on Ingleborough Common, contributing to the stunning landscape that we all love so much. You can learn more about this in part 1 of Louise’s video here.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCm6QQhPrOg&w=560&h=315]

Throughout the year sheep need to be brought in from the fell for health checks, treatments, lambing, or in this case for shearing.

Sheep’s wool continues to grow. You will sometimes see some fleeces beginning to shed where hot, itchy sheep have been rubbing themselves during the summer months in the lead up to shearing time, but often if the sheep are not sheared the fleece will get thicker and thicker and cause welfare problems for the animal.

So every year, usually around July, farmers will bring their sheep down from the fell to be sheared, and Louise expertly shows us how she goes about it in part 2 of her video, here.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIL3XULxpwM&w=560&h=315]

Think of shearing a sheep like us getting our head shaved! It’s not painful for the animal and the shearers hold and move the sheep in a way that is most comfortable for the animal as well as for the comfort of the shearer, who will be spending hours on end shearing their flock.

Wool used to be quite a valuable product, it used to be used much more in production of products such as our clothing but the increase in other fibres has unfortunately led to wool becoming much less valued commercially. As Louise explains, farmers don’t make much for the fleeces these days but the sheep certainly feel better once their hot itchy coats have been taken off in the summer!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Picture of Briony Freeman

Briony Freeman

Briony is a Farm Conservation Advisor

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