Countryfile: Adam Henson discusses sheep shearing

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Adam Henson was on his farm in the Cotswolds for his latest Countryfile segment as it was time to shear his sheep. The presenter explained to viewers just how expensive it was to shear sheep, with farmers making a dismal profit from the wool they sell due to the lack of interest in the natural fibre. As a result many British farmers have taken to burning the wool as they can’t face losing money.

Adam explained: “Many farms often bring in contractors to shear their flock but at £1.50 per sheep, it can get expensive so we do it ourselves.

“Shearing is a skill hat takes quite a while to learn. The skill is moving the shears over the surface of the body to get the fleece off all in one piece.

“Each movement is known as a blow and there’s a set number of blows per sheep.

“You can see Mike is pulling the ewe’s head up towards him so the shears glide over the surface of the skin.

“If you get it wrong, you can cut the sheep or cause them stress or just not get the fleece off correctly so there’s loads of cuts in it.

“Very good job. Then you pick the fleece up from the back legs and throw it on the table.

“Then you take off any of the mucky bits because you don’t want that and then the fleece is rolled.

“That ends up in one whole bundle. That’s the skill, to get the fleece off in one big piece.”

Adam continued: “In days gone by this would have been a really valuable sought after product but over decades, it’s declined in value because it’s been replaced by synthetics in the textile industry. A crying shame.

“For many sheep farmers up and down the country, the value they get for their wool is less than it costs to get it off their backs so they’re making a loss.

“The price of a sheep’s fleece has fallen so low that some remote hill farmers have been burning or burying their wool rather than selling it for next to nothing.

“So what is being done to reduce sheep farmers and raise the profile of this natural British fibre?”

Adam went on to learn what is being done to encourage people to buy British wool and help farmers in the UK make a profit.

He was told the biggest business for British wool was the carper business and interior textiles.

He went on to look at investment in wool and was shown products such as insulation and plasters which were made from the natural fibre.

Some viewers were baffled by how unpopular wool has become with one asking: “If wool can provide all those innovative things, then why the hell is it unpopular on the market? So odd! #Countryfile.”

Elsewhere on the show, Matt Baker rolled up his sleeves to help scrape back the invasive Heath Star moss to expose the bare sand on Studland Bay.

His actions would help to provide a habitat for some of the country’s rarest species.

And, Margherita Taylor discovered, Kimmeridge Bay is the perfect playground for pioneering palaeontologists.

It is a world-famous outcrop of rock, containing incredible fossils which date back 152-157 million years.

Countryfile is available to catch up on BBC iPlayer now.

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