HALF PRICE OFFER Subscribe to Hampshire Life today CLICK HERE

Adam Henson, from the BBC's Countryfile, on the art of shearing

10:21 30 May 2012

Adam Henson, from the BBC

Adam Henson, from the BBC's Countryfile, on the art of shearing

A year ago, no one had heard of the Schmallenberg Virus.This horrible, insect borne disease which causes birth defects and miscarriages in livestock first emerged in northern Europe in 2011.

A year ago, no one had heard of the Schmallenberg Virus.This horrible, insect borne disease which causes birth defects and miscarriages in livestock first emerged in northern Europe in 2011.



By this spring, hundreds of British farms had been affected and the issue was on the radio, TV and in print. Despite the media debate, no one can say for certain what effect the virus will have in the months to come. But if anything positive can be salvaged from the outbreak its that the general publics appreciation and understanding of sheep farming has increased. That applies to shearing almost as much as it did to lambing earlier in the year. On my farm in the Cotswolds, well soon be shearing our flock of 900 sheep but its not necessarily the case everywhere. Shearing follows the weather, so it takes place earlier in Devon and Cornwall than it does in the Midlands, who are then ahead of Northumbria and Scotland.



The majority of commercial work is done by gangs of experienced shearers who travel across the country working from place to place. Most of them are Australians and New Zealanders who seem to have a natural aptitude for this repetitive, back-breaking work and I suppose the large sums of money they can earn in the UK is a bit of a draw too. These hard-working young men (and the occasional woman) herd the sheep into handling pens with the aim of getting the entire fleece off each sheep in one piece so that it can be rolled and bagged intact. A top notch shearer can get through up to 300 animals in a day, driven on by the need for the gang to complete a whole flock before nightfall so they can move on to their next farm. By contrast, exhibition shearing is a much slower process. Visitors to agricultural shows, country fairs and farm parks want to see what happens and hear about the art of shearing. So the work is staggered with just a few sheep sheared daily and time for a lot more conversation than you would expect from the Aussies! The white fleeces are sold to the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB) which runs a centralised system to help get the best possible profit.



Most of our coloured wool is bought by spinners and weavers at a premium due to the lovely natural shades. Nationally, lots of coloured wool still goes to the BWMB albeit at a lower price due to the fact that it cant be dyed. And the great news is that, for the first time in years, the price the farmer gets for his wool is more than the cost of having it shorn in the first place. Happy days.




Living in the clouds


The Woolly Shepherd, which was featured on Countryfile this spring, has developed a competitive range of Natural Acoustics. They are made from wool that is often wasted as it is not valuable enough to ship and store. They hang like fluffy clouds in dining areas and help to cut down clatter and echo.

0 comments

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from Out & About

Wed, 17:04
Luka and Bluebells by Kevin Friery (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0) via flic.kr/p/nou27r

It’s safe to say we all love Hampshire and everything it has to offer. The same certainly goes for our canine friends too...

Read more
Friday, April 29, 2016
Anniversary tour

Charlotte Tomlinson-White has scoured the county to bring you the top events taking place this month

Read more
Friday, April 29, 2016
Wheelwrights Cottage by Neil Howard (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0) via flic.kr/p/aimUNL. Edited with addtext.com

10 of best photos of Hampshire shared on Instagram over the past week...

Read more
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Winchester Fashion Week on the catwalk

Now in its sixth year, Winchester Fashion Week returns from April 25-30, Emma Caulton takes a peek behind the scenes

Read more
Monday, April 25, 2016
Brook Bay, Isle of Wight by Strep72 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0) via flic.kr/p/dsYysw

The Isle of Wight might be relatively small in terms of area, but it’s certainly packed with things to do, views and the odd festival...

Read more
Monday, April 25, 2016
Tracey Curtis-Taylor

Having embarked on the aviation journey of a lifetime from Farnborough to Sydney, Tracey Curtis-Taylor is finally back on solid ground and talks to Peter White about her incredible adventure

Read more
Monday, April 25, 2016
Win tickets to the Devon County Show 2016!

To celebrate the best food, farming and fun in Devon, Great British Life is giving away theses awesome prizes to one lucky competition entrant.

Read more
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Landscape from Farley Mount by Neil Howard (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0url) via flic.kr/p/qrju6R

Stretching from Beachy Head in Sussex all the way to the Itchen Valley here in Hampshire, the South Downs really is a beautiful place for a stroll or bike ride

Read more
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Bath Road, £695,000 | Classic period townhouse with contemporary interior near Town Quay | Spencers New Forest, Lymington, 01590 674222

The rise and rise of the sailing resort, celebrated by Emma Caulton

Read more
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
There's a timetable of steam trains, dining trains and special events at the Watercress Line - running from Alresford to Alton

Watercress and wine in the heart of Hampshire – enjoyed by Emma Caulton

Read more
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Stockbridge Down at sunrise

Author and writer, Jeremy Hobson, discovers the delights on offer in the Test town of Stockbridge

Read more
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
The rescued cottage is now pretty as a picture

Enjoy the harmonious planting in the oasis of country charm at Terstan garden in Longstock says Leigh Clapp

Read more
Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The organisers behind the New Forest marathon are appealing for corporate entrants to sign up and get fit together in the work place.

Read more
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Romesh Ranganathan

Hampshire is fit to bursting with great comedy venues, Claire Pitcher vists some of the best places to see stand up across the county

Read more


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Hampshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search