Marie Prebble runs a 93ha (230-acre) Ministry of Defence-tenanted farm with her parents, David and Diane, near Dover. Largely permanent pasture in Higher Level Stewardship, the farm is home to 400 breeding Romneys which Marie puts to high index Lleyn rams.
I have been busy shearing my lambs at home and, after a move to a legume-rich sward, they will grow on really well.
I don’t expect to sell many before winter, but that system works for me. I am looking forward to ‘Romney day’ at Ashford market at the end of the month as I will be needing to buy some females.
I attended Dorset Show and had a brilliant day catching up with shearing friends, especially as I have not made it to any other shows. I came second in the intermediates and fifth in the seniors, which made the trip worthwhile.
It also reinforced for me how powerful it is we hold public shearing displays in the form of the competition circuit around the UK every year.
It is a great showcase of the best of the industry and educates viewers about what proper shearing looks like.
I am sure many people will have seen the recent undercover footage from PETA* of some shearers mistreating sheep in the UK.
Seeing it exposed in this way on Channel Four news made my heart sink, as most of us strive to do the very best job we can every day.
There should be no excuses for handling sheep in this foul way and those shearers would be wise to take a step back and consider whether the job is for them.
We all know how tough it can be, but it comes down to character, and if you cannot handle shearing without taking it out on the sheep, there is no place in the industry for you.
Most shearers and farmers would have zero tolerance of this sort of behaviour and it tarnishes all shearers with the same brush if people believe this to be representative. Yes, we had excessive temperatures this year; yes, some sheep are not presented correctly by farmers in terms of being crutched; and yes, they nearly always run in full straight off grass and do struggle. But nothing warrants the sorts of behaviour shown in the footage.
The best shearers do the fastest, cleanest job their gear, positioning and mental attitude will allow, which is what we all aim for.
Looking after ourselves and each other is so important. Nobody is perfect and we all have bad days, but how we deal with them is what makes us or breaks us.
*The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Foundation is an animal rights organisations opposed to using animals for food, clothing or testing. The shearing investigation emerged last August.