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

Friday, May 27, 2016
St John's in Hedge End is an attractive Victorian church

Suburbia and the living is easy, says Emma Caulton on a visit to Hedge End and West End

Read more
Spending just a few minutes a day enjoying nature can do wonders for your health (Photo by Matthew Roberts)

Undertaking Random Acts of Wildness for 30 days is proven to enhance your health and wellbeing says Lianne de Mello from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust...

Read more
Friday, May 27, 2016
The Heavy Horse Musical Drive entertains the crowds

Be in with a chance to win a family ticket to this year’s New Forest Show from July 26-28 and experience agricultural entertainment at its best

Read more
Friday, May 27, 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
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Celebrate the Queen’s 90th with a right royal bonanza at Bel & the Dragon in the quintessential English village of Kingsclere.

Read more
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
From the path there is a great view of Deane House (private) where Jane met Tom LeFroy © Steve Davison

Head to the west of Basingstoke for a walk in Jane Austen country says Steve Davison

Read more
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
The gardens are a hidden oasis (Photo: Fareham Borough Council)

Whether you stumble across its gardens, exhibits and café by chance or are a regular visitor, Fareham’s Westbury Manor conjures up plenty of surprises. Viv Micklefield stops off for a spot of time travelling

Read more
Monday, May 23, 2016

The Burley Village Show is being held in the Manor Park, Burley, on Saturday 6 August.

Read more
Thursday, May 19, 2016

Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire is hosting an open day at its Equestrian facility on Sunday 12 June.

Read more
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
New Forest Marathon

Inspired by the antics of Eddie Izzard’s 27 marathons in 27 days? Why not take to the trails yourself and sign up for one of the county’s excellent running events. Claire Pitcher gives you a head start with her top routes

Read more
Monday, May 16, 2016
Beach huts and fossil hunting at Barton on Sea

Sunsets and seaside, motorbikes and pony rides, celeb spotting and fossil hunting, New Milton makes an eclectic destination says Emma Caulton

Read more
Thursday, May 12, 2016

We’ve all spent many an enjoyable summer’s evening in a beer garden or at a friends for a BBQ, but they all just seem so… typical

Read more
Monday, May 9, 2016
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
Monday, May 9, 2016
Odiham Castle

With such a vibrant community, there’s something for all interests in Odiham, from foodies to history buffs says Claire Pitcher

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