WELSH FARMERS, who are finding it increasingly difficult to find and pay contract shearers, are being urged to train to clip their own flocks.

Hybu Cig Cymru/Meat Promotion Wales, Farming Connect and the British Wool Marketing Board are working together to deliver 525 free training days this year.

The six courses on offer cater for beginners and those with a range of existing skill, and include basic clipping of the crutches and bellies of sheep and shearing machine maintenance.

“Now in its third year of operation, this structured training programme is an excellent example of how Farming Connect is making an immediate impact on individual farming skills,” said Prys Morgan, HCC‘s industry development manager.

“It is all about improving standards and working towards excellence to add further value and quality to the sheep industry.”

More than 100 farmers have already attended the 25 courses run in 2004, and Mr Morgan claimed that places for the remaining courses scheduled for the year are limited.

Farming Connect is a mainly EU-funded Welsh Assembly initiative that aims to improve the performance and sustainability of family farms through advice, training and grants.