CONCERNS are growing about the likely shortage of shearers this year, when the shearing season gets underway, according to members of the NFU’s North East Livestock Board.

Livestock chairman, North Yorkshire farmer, Will Terry, says that with the number of overseas shearers unable to travel because of coronavirus, it will be a case of making good use of everyone’s collective shearing skills.

“I know that British Wool has joined forces with the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) and other industry bodies to get a shearing register up and running,” he said.

“This is a great start – allowing shearers and sheep farmers alike to go online and find each other. But we may have to think in broader terms about how to fill the gap left by the shearing gangs that usually descend from New Zealand.”

Will says the void could present a real opportunity for younger, up-and-coming shearers, or those with limited experience to brush up on their skills and help deliver the national clip.

“British Wool has produced a great series of videos on YouTube that could act as a useful refresher for anyone whose skills are a bit rusty, and the chance to help out and learn from experienced shearers on-the-job could also be an opportunity for people looking to develop their skills,” said Will.

“Honestly, I think we will need all the help we can get this year to meet our sheep health obligations and this will be made all the more challenging by the need to adhere to social distancing practices.”

The NAAC has also produced a Covid-19 Shearing Checklist aimed at helping all those involved in shearing to stay safe – suggesting practical measures that can be easily implemented and allow shearing to continue.

For anyone in need of shearing assistance or anyone who thinks they can help, please get in touch with the NFU via email at Efforts will be made to publicise requests and offers of help received.