THERE'S been a sharp reminder for the industry to uphold its high standards during the sheep shearing season.

The National Sheep Association said the industry must follow shearing guidelines to uphold standards ahead of the season begins across the UK, to 'protect our reputation'.

Following the videos released by ‘animals rights’ organisation, PETA, last autumn, NSA joined with industry partners to produce a practical and coherent set of guidelines for anyone working in the shearing shed, to ensure the industry presents itself in an acceptable light.

Its chief executive, Phil Stocker, said: “It is absolutely vital that all involved in shearing and indeed any sheep handling activity, ensure they are working at the highest possible standard.

"While we know that sheep welfare is improved by shearing as the weather warms, these organisations espouse the message that we are simply doing it for profit and care not a jot for the welfare of the sheep. These animal rights campaigning groups will take any opportunity to attack our industry and even small slip ups, observed by the wrong person, can be extremely damaging and time consuming to deal with. Our best line of defence is to limit their opportunities.”

Mr Stocker added: “For those more adventurous souls, it may even be worth inviting local people in to watch and I’d put money on far more people being impressed than concerned.”

The shearing guidelines were produced by NSA, NAAC, NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland, NFU, FUW and British Wool.