Shearers, wool handlers and farmers in the UK are advised to be extra vigilant to keep safe during shearing time this year, while ensuring animal welfare is protected amid the developing coronavirus situation.
With business as usual set to be impossible this season, industry bodies have collectively produced a new checklist for shearers and others involved with the aim of making sure practical measures are taken to protect everyone’s safety.
National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) chief executive Jill Hewitt says: “It will inevitably be a slower, more difficult shearing season this year, but risks must not be taken. Careful planning will be essential to make certain that, when shearers are on-farm, the process of handling sheep and shearing is efficient to make the process run as smoothly as possible.”
With a shortage of shearers also likely amid ongoing travel restrictions and therefore an absence of labour from overseas, industry is asking farmers to be prepared that the season might be longer than in a normal year.
A shearing register and to connect the shearing workforce has been set-up in response, hosted on the NAAC website, whereby shearers are encouraged to come forward and register whether they can give a month of their time or a day.
Gareth Jones, head of producer marketing at British Wool, says: “A large number of shearers, wool handlers and contractors have already listed their details on the shearing register. With the process of connecting people across the UK underway, these new measures aim to keep everyone involved in shearing safe.”
- No personnel must be present at shearing if showing symptoms of coronavirus and must follow guidance on self-isolating.
- Ensure all personnel can maintain a minimum of two metres separation.
- Hand washing facilities should be available for everyone to wash hands with soap and water regularly for a minimum of 20 seconds. If hand washing facilities are not available use hand sanitiser.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean (including if wearing gloves)
- Where possible, shearers should travel to jobs in their own vehicle. Extra vehicles may be necessary
- Do not allow any visitors, including children, where shearing is taking place – put up warning notices at entrances
- Before visiting farms have a telephone or email conversation between contractor and farmer to agree how the shearing will operate. Confirm details on the day of shearing to check if anyone’s health has changed.
- Keep one shearer to one machine.
- Clean vehicle cabs thoroughly after work and in the morning using disinfectant on door handles, steering wheel and all areas likely to have been handled.
- Wash hands regularly after touching ‘shared’ equipment, such as shearing trailer