We are currently in the middle of shearing on the family farm, and it is somewhat different from last year.
Following on from the developments of COVID-19, my brother and I have returned home from University. “Great” we thought, “we will be home just in time for shearing.” However, for the first time since we were toddlers, we were not allowed in the shed, not even to help pen up or press wool.
For the health and well-being of our employees we have made some big changes in the way our shed operates. Thanks to information sourced from AWI and WoolProducers Australia, these changes aim to reduce the risks associated with the ongoing pandemic.
Adequate spacing at Smokos (eat outside if possible)
Rousey to wait until shearers are in catching pen before pick-up
Hygiene - Don’t share!
Shearers to bring own water/cups/drink bottles/food
Shearers to use their own tools, sweatbands and towels
Keep gear separate
Wipe down Smoko room with disinfectant after each break (along with taps, door handles, surfaces, fridge, microwave etc.)
For Wool growers
Only the wool grower is to enter the shed, no other farm personnel to be on the board/in the pens
Use a farm management software like Mobble to connect with staff, while being apart
(This means I’ve been kicked off any shed job, however it’s for the everyone’s safety!)
So What Should Wool Producers Expect Going Forward?
Farmers must be planning for the future:
Be prepared to be restricted to ‘essential shearing only’
Be prepared for lower productivity/higher costs - safety and welfare must be prioritised
Tighter compliance and increrased auditing... Using a livestock farm management app like Mobble allows you to easily do your chemical inventories and NVD!
Employers and employees all have a legal responsibility to help provide a safe workplace, there's also the moral responsibility to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 to help save lives. If you are working on-farm or in the shearing shed and you feel unwell, make sure to isolate as soon as possible and only then notify the relevant people - contractor, wool grower, etc.
Below there are a few really useful links on COVID-19 and news in wool, otherwise, stay safe and wash your hands!
The Yarn Podcast: “In these very difficult days, we hear the very latest from the largest processor and buyer of Australian wool: China. Lizzie Chen has been importing Australian wool on behalf of large Chinese mills since the 1990s.” - listen here
ABC News: “Other significant wool exporting regions such as South Africa, South America, and New Zealand have closed their sales due to pandemic-related measures." - more here
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