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HomeFarming NewsHow will you ensure safety when shearing?
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How will you ensure safety when shearing?

The National Association of Agricultural Contractors has provided a checklist for both contractors and farmers to help them stay safe when shearing sheep.

The checklist includes recommendations for both parties on how to maintain social distancing, provide a clean and safe work environment and carry out the task in a safe manner.

The checklist of actions for both shearing contractor and farmer are as follows:


  • 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 2m separation;
  • Hand-washing facilities should be available for everyone to wash hands with soap and water regularly for a minimum of 20 seconds. If handwashing facilities are not available, wipe off any visible dirt and then use hand sanitiser;
  • As a minimum, shearers must wash hands before leaving home, after each farm shearing, at the end of each shearing run before eating/drinking and on arrival back home;
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with dirty hands, before washing (including if wearing gloves);
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze – ensure all staff are aware – put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands immediately afterwards;
  • Where possible, shearers should travel to jobs in their own vehicle. Extra vehicles may be necessary. If not possible, maintain a 2m separation and keep the window open for ventilation and be careful not to touch your face;
  • On leaving the cab, you must wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or more or use hand sanitiser when you cannot wash your hands;
  • If shearers are being accommodated, ensure that you can comply with social distancing. Please refer to AHDB guidance for information;
  • Do not allow any visitors, including children, where shearing is taking place – put up warning notices at entrances;
  • Communicate with shearers and farmers remotely to avoid direct contact.

Machinery and equipment

  • Keep to one-shearer-one machine. Each shearer must be responsible for their own kit (e.g. putting up and taking down their machine and dropper) and cleaning;
  • Clean vehicle cabs thoroughly after use by each member of staff using disinfectant e.g. door handles, steering wheel and all areas likely to have been handled;
  • Clean vehicle cabs thoroughly after work and in the morning using disinfectant e.g. door handles, steering wheel and all areas likely to have been handled;
  • Wash hands regularly after touching ‘shared’ equipment (e.g. when setting up trailer);
  • Only individual shearers to handle their own shearing kit and only farmers to handle their hurdles/on-farm equipment.

Before visiting farms

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  • 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. Agree:
  • That no-one will come into contact with anyone who is self-isolating;
  • There will be no direct contact between shearers and farm personnel, unless necessary to work safely. Agree that everyone will remain at least 2m apart;
  • Ensure that hand-washing facilities are available – or equip personnel with wipes and hand sanitiser (agree beforehand who will provide facilities);
  • Plan of work – discuss how sheep will be moved and how social distancing can be maintained;
  • Assume that all surfaces could be contaminated and try and keep separate work areas for contractors and shearers;
  • Ensure that facilities will be available for hand-washing and disinfecting machinery and staff before they leave the farm;
  • Farmer will disinfect all necessary work areas before shearers arrive.

On-farm and shearing

  • Keep everyone at least 2m apart:
    • Consider making a temporarily partition between stands or not using all available stands;
    • Shearers should avoid entering pens at the same time;
    • This includes shearers and farm personnel who may be moving sheep – remember you can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
  • Stay a minimum of 2m apart – including in races, shearing pens and during breaks;
  • Following shearing, kick wool off the board to maintain a minimum 2m distance for the wool wrapper at all times or consider using a ‘broom’ to pull the wool off the boards;
  • Disinfect shearing equipment between each farm and retain one set of equipment for each shearer;
  • Change clothing and moccasins before moving to the next farm; bag clothes at each site and wash before wearing again;
  • Wash hands for 20 seconds before leaving the farm.

Farmer’s Responsibilities

  • Liaise with your shearer (see above) and work in partnership to protect everyone’s health;
  • Ensure you, your staff and shearers remain at least 2m apart at all times;
  • Provide hand-washing facilities where possible, otherwise provide hand sanitiser;
  • Please be ready and prepared for your shearer’s visit. The industry will be under additional pressure this year and it will be important to have well-presented sheep ready to be shorn when the team arrives. Please follow best practice including:
    • Well-designed handling system;
    • Take appropriate measures to ensure sheep presented for shearing;
    • Do not have full stomachs, by yarding appropriately without food or water ahead of shearing;
    • No wet sheep, no dags;
    • Do not combine drenching, parasite control, or other procedures at the same time as shearing;
    • Provide a safe, level, dry area for shearing.
  • Disinfect the work area and surfaces before shearers arrive;
  • Do not allow any visitors, including children, where shearing is taking place – put up warning notices at entrances;
  • Ensure personnel remain at least 2m apart even in raceways and loading the shearing trailer. Allow shearers to move away before approaching the trailer.
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