Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Where can I find 2,100 sheep?

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Sourcing more than 2,100 sheep for this weekend's event is a massive challenge and the man charged with organising the logistics of sheep procurement is Kevin Traynor of the Hollywood Wool and Country Fair committee.

Planning the sourcing of sheep for the 2012 All Ireland Sheep Shearing Championships started last September.

With 2,100 sheep to be shorn over the two days, local farmers were approached to see if they would provide sheep.

"All sheep shorn need to be dry ewe hoggets. They will be a combination of Cheviot and Cheviot Suffolk cross ewes because they are being sourced in the Hollywood area," Mr Traynor said.

Teams of experienced shearers descended onto the donor farms to crutch the sheep this week. This involves removing all wool around the tail area and in front of the udder to prevent any accidents.

The sheep are required to have full fleeces. Ewes with open necks or those which are half-stripped will be rejected.

"At all times the welfare of the sheep is top priority," Mr Traynor added.

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"The farmers have been issued with a pour-on to prevent blow-fly strike and plans are in place to make sure that sheep have access to housing in the event of wet weather in the days prior to the event. They need to arrive dry and in good condition."

Each shearing competition will use sheep from a single farmer's flock and while this might seem like a mammoth task, Mr Traynor insists he has a team of workers equal to the task. Shearing will begin at 7.30am each day, and with six shearers competing at any one time on stage, up to 40 helpers will be needed, working in shifts.

"But when you have experienced people who are used to handling sheep every day, it is second nature to them," Mr Traynor said.

Meanwhile, sheep shearers descended on Ballinrobe Racecourse, Co Mayo, two weeks ago and set a new world record for hand-shearing.

Some 154 men, women and children began shearing under the watchful eye of independent observers authorised by the Guinness Book of Records.

The participants came from all over the west of Ireland to take part in the bid.

They ranged in age from just 11 years old to 92-year-old Peter McGrath from The Neale in Co Mayo.

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