6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Hampshire Life 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

More from Out & About

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Whether you punish the quads in a gruelling 530 stair climb or kayak around Hayling Island – 2015 is the year to drag yourself off of the sofa and sign up for one of the county’s top sporting challenges

Read more
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Bursledon Windmill

It’s been a local landmark for 200 years and now Bursledon’s famous windmill has been restored to its former glory. Viv Micklefield speaks to some of those passionate about saving this county treasure

Read more
Monday, April 20, 2015
Robert Downey Jr. arrives at the premiere of Iron Man 3 (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Ever wondered where your favourite movie or scene is filmed? Here we summarise those that might be closer than you think

Read more
Monday, April 20, 2015
There is a rich architectural mix down Bridge Street

Wickham is a picturesque village that offers great places to eat, drink and be entertained, but what is it like to live there? Emma Caulton finds out on a recent trip

Read more
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
© Lighttrapper Photography

Lazing by the river at The Greyhound on the Test in Stockbridge

Read more
Monday, April 13, 2015
Photo: Digibloc

The skies above our county are littered with constellations – you may even spot a planet if you know where to look! But if you don’t know Polaris from Uranus, fear not, Jenny Shipway, Head of Winchester’s Planetarium is here to point us in the right direction

Read more
Monday, April 13, 2015
Seahorses make their home in the seagrass

Immersed beneath its surface, The Solent is harbouring an underwater rainforest and it needs our protection. Laura Drake from the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust explains how we can do more to save this vitally important habitat

Read more
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Looking east back towards Upton © Steve Davison

Steve Davison heads to the North Hampshire Downs for a peaceful walk with some lovely views and a pub

Read more
Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Find out how to spot one of the county’s most fascinating birds, the Nightjar, or ‘Goatsucker’ as it used to be known, with Outdoor Ranger Laura Baker

Read more
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Exclusive Chefs’ Academy and Lainston House are hosting a special afternoon tea at Winchester Cathedral on Wednesday 29 April with proceeds from the event, supported by Twining’s Tea and Nyetimber, going to Naomi House & Jacksplace, hospices for children and young adults.

Read more
Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ever wondered about the history surrounding Romsey’s King John’s House? Claire Pitcher pays a visit to this little known treasure to find out more

Read more
Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Keep everyone in the family entertained this Easter break with our list of 50 eggcellent adventures to enjoy across Hampshire

Read more
Monday, March 9, 2015
Getty Images/iStockphoto

In 2015, the Rugby World Cup heads to England and Wales. Here’s where you can take in some Hampshire rugby in the run-up to the big tournament.

Read more
Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Less than two miles from central Portsmouth, the streets and esplanades of Southsea have a cool retro vibe. Packed with independent shops and eateries, a growing number of boutique B&Bs means it’s a seaside resort not just for day-trippers

Read more

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP



Hampshire's trusted business finder
subscription ad

subscription ad