Fears sheep will die due to 'severe' shortage of shearers
Animal welfare concerns have been raised by the Irish Sheep Shearers Association due to a severe shortage of shearers across the country.
“So many men have given it up and it is a serious problem now as there is a major backlog for those still in business, especially in this warm weather. We are fearful of animals dying,” said ISSA chairman Tom Dunne.
It’s believed that some farmers have been waiting up to five weeks to have their animals shorn.
Some contractors would have started in late April, but in some cases were forced to cancel jobs due to the low levels of lanolin present because of the bad winter. The onset of the current heat wave then saw a flurry of business, but this has now resulted in a backlog owing to the reduced number of contractors still in business.
Mr Dunne believes the sharp decline is due to a significant number of young people leaving sheep farming in favour of dairy.
“They are also going back into the building trade where there are better pay conditions,” he said. Sadly this is resulting in a shortage of young shearers coming on stream.
“It is hard work for sure, but some of the contractors do well out of it if they are at it full-time. They work in Ireland for the summer, and then go abroad to the likes of New Zealand for our winter.”
Bad wool prices have not helped matters, says Mr Dunne, as farmers are getting a mere 55c/kg, but paying the shearers up to €2.50 per head.