Sheep shearers have been warned summer shearing processes will be slower because of a tranche of social distancing and hygiene guidelines to safeguard workers against coronavirus.
This is according to the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC), which has launched a checklist of actions for shearers to follow before and during farm visits.
The 33-point guideline aims to prevent infected workers from visiting farms, as well as reducing social contact between shearers and farmers while vital shearing work continues.
Measures include constructing partitions on clipping trailers or having fewer shearers on trailers to ensure a 2m distance is maintained.
Shearers are also advised to discuss arrangements with farmers before arrival to ensure hand-washing facilities are available, necessary work areas have been disinfected and nobody has contacted anyone in self-isolation.
Covid-19 checklist for shearing contractors and farmers
The checklist is supported by the British Wool Board, Farmers Union Wales, NFU Cymru, NFU, NFU Scotland and the National Sheep Association.
Not business as usual
The NAAC said that with fewer overseas workers and stringent health guidelines to follow amid the Covid-19 crisis, shearing in 2020 “will not be business as usual”.
Jill Hewitt, NAAC chief executive said: “It will inevitably be a slower, more difficult shearing season this year.
“But risks must not be taken, and co-operation, collaboration and patience will be vital. We are likely to have a shortage of shearers, and careful planning will be essential to make certain that, when shearers are on farm, the process of handling sheep and shearing is efficient and that everyone works together to make the process run as smoothly as possible, keeping everyone protected while maintaining high standards of animal welfare.”
Farmers are being advised to get in touch with their usual contractor to organise shearing, but to prepare for a longer season than in a normal year.