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‘Recently I discovered that wool is considered a waste product of sheep farming’

In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, Clodagh Hughes, sheep farmer, discusses shearing, weather, wool prices, faecal sampling, and flystrike prevention.

As we all enjoy this latest spell of fabulous Irish summer weather, spare a thought for the sheep of Ireland folks.

Even though I finally got my flock shorn last week, they are out in the fields hogging every available shaded spot as they attempt to stay cool.

Although they are very happy to be free from their woolly prisons, they still have a short (approx. 2cm) wool covering.

This will keep them warm in cooler weather, but they still feel very warm in hot weather.

Incidentally, the night after they were shorn was one of the coldest nights we have had for weeks. You could see the sheep standing with humps on them in a little group. We just cannot win with our weather.

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Wool prices

I am sure most of you are aware at this stage of how little monetary value there is in sheep’s wool in recent years, especially the commercial breeds.

In fact, only quite recently I discovered that wool is considered a waste product of sheep farming…a waste product!

This is very disheartening for any sheep farmer to hear and is disgraceful to have such a versatile, natural, and biodegradable product deemed practically useless.

So much so that a large quantity of Irish wool has and will be burned.

Farmers cannot justify the logistical costs of transporting it to a collection site and simply have not got the storage space to hold onto it in the hopes that next year’s prices would be better.

Storing wool 

Incidentally, my usual collection site is not collecting wool this year. I did not get a reason why. I guess that it is not paying these guys either.  Rant over!

So, because I do not have huge amounts of wool to store, I will hold onto this year’s shear along with last year’s, and I have also taken a friend’s wool.  My father has large sheds I can use.

Once it is clean and was clipped dry, the fleeces will keep for a couple of years.

Something I have started to do this past two years and have not completed was to wash my own fleece and attempt to process it into a usable product for felting, perhaps.

I have had my eye on a hogget ewe with a lovely soft, slightly longer fleece than the others. I am going to use it and am adamant to see this project through this year!

Against my better judgement, I let my wee broody hen sit on two eggs as she is determined to nest. Although she abandoned her last two chicks, she has been a great mother in the past.  But I am only leaving two eggs with her.

Wool prices, sheep, sheep farming, sheep farmers, farming news

Faecal sampling, worming drenches and flystrike prevention

On the other hand, I have a few jobs coming up now with the sheep.

I must take the first faecal samples from my lambs to decide what worming drench, if any, I need to administer.

A few weeks after shearing, when the sheep’s fleece has grown a wee bit, I will apply a product that prevents flystrike as the fly season is in full swing!

Read more of Clodagh’s updates.

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