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Home Farming News Farmer's Diary: 'Shearing was different this year with COVID-19'
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Farmer’s Diary: ‘Shearing was different this year with COVID-19’

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Edward Earle, Gorey, Co. Wexford, works as a quality engineer and farms over 300 ewes in partnership with his parents.

All the ewes and rams were sheared this week. Shearing is essential task carried out on the farms because with the weather getting milder, heavy fleeces on the ewes increase the risks of them getting on their backs and ends up with them dying.

We are getting to that time of year for blowfly and maggots as well, and there is nothing I hate more than a maggoty sheep. The last thing I want to have to do when I come home from work is run after maggoty sheep.

One little thing we have done to reduce ewes getting on their backs is installing scratching posts around the paddocks, which allows the ewe to scratch that itch.

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Shearing

Shearing was different this year with Covid-19. The shearers were the first people we have had on the farm since it started.

It was noticeable when Mammy would bring up cups of tea and social distancing was maintained between us and the shearers. These steps are important to ensure we stay safe.

The most disappointing thing I have with shearing is that, while the wool has to come off the sheep’s back, the price being suggested for wool this year doesn’t look good at all.

Covid-19 impact on wool price is a serious concern and will add cost to farmers. We are all used to wool not paying for shearing and this year looks like it is going to be the worst year yet.

It is being suggested that wool will sell at around 20-25c/kg. Surely with all this talk around sustainability, Irish wool could be used for a variety of uses instead of having to be shipped to China?

Animal health

With the ewes sheared, it makes it easier to assess their Body Conditioning Score (BCS) and, overall, we are pleased with the condition of the ewes.

We are very happy with the ewes rearing triplets and the 2019 ewe lambs rearing their first litter.

All ewes and lambs were footbathed after shearing. We find it worthwhile when we have the sheep in the yard to always let them run through the footbath as it’s time well spent instead of chasing lame sheep.

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