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Shearing on the Falklands

Ex-pat New Zealander and Falkland Island Team Manager Jack Wilson gives us an overview on country's team for next month's World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships and gives us an insight in to farming on the Falklands.

Lee Molkenbuhr and Paul Phillips are our shearers and Reba Peck and Pilar Castro are our two woolhandlers.

We normally have a competition over the Christmas holidays and the first two residents earn selection for the World Champs. The selection event was held earlier this year, to give those selected a chance to get trained up with the World Champs in February.

The team started arriving in New Zealand this past weekend and is looking to shear in the North Island over the next couple of weeks before travelling south.

Our shearing season back home normally starts with a little bit of pre-lamb in September and goes through until around the middle of March. It's all full wool, including the hoggets. There's no lambs shorn. Sheep breeds are mostly Polwarth and Corriedale.

Wool remains the main income earner for farmers. It's a fine wool, ideally ranging from 19 to 21 micron or 21 to 23 in the hoggets. There are two main wool-buyers, one from the UK and our local company the Falkland Wool Co-op, who on-sell it.

I would say around 85% of the shearing is done by wool contractors. There's one main contractor on the Islands.

The average flock size would be around 5 to 6,000 with an average size of 10,000 hectares. Most are family farms but like Landcorp in New Zealand, the Falklands Government has a large land-holding with four farms that make up about a quarter of the total area farmed.

Land is peaty and quite wet and a mix of low land and hill country. Agriculture is a very important industry for the Falklands, it sits alongside fishing and tourism as the country's major industries.

We are hoping for a strong showing next month. They've been up there, right amongst it the last couple of competitions having made the semi-finals so we're looking to feature again this time around.

Jack Wilson