It’s that time of year again – warmer months mean fleeces off! We’ve just completed shearing for this year, with all the non-shedding sheep having their fleeces removed.
Sheep can be shorn during all seasons, mostly depending on weather, managements and availability of shearers. For us, we shear the ewes in warmer months. The professional shearers start by removing belly wool, separate to the main fleece. After the whole fleece is removed, its wrapped in specific way and placed in a wool bag – for more about that, see the British Wool website.
The fleeces are then sent to the British Wool. Formerly the British Wool Marketing Board, the establishment is collectively owned by around 40,000 British sheep farmers. They collect, grade, market and self the wool on behalf of farmers to the international wool textile industry. Uses include flooring, furnishings and apparel.
Although fleeces are not worth much at all in terms of monetary value, it’s still vital that we shear our sheep for their welfare. One of the biggest issues we have is flystrike, where flies lay their eggs in dirty areas of the fleece. These hatch into maggots, which will eat through the skin.