Coronavirus: Shearers making extreme sacrifices to help farmers

It's a critical time of year for sheep farmers to prepare livestock for the coming winter months. They are relying on the work of shearers who are making extreme sacrifices just to do their job.

While the sun has only just risen at Middle Rock Farm, the woolshed is already pumping getting sheep ready for winter.

"We've got to carry on with normal seasonal jobs, especially when it comes to animal health and crutching these lambs is part of it," says farmer Bruce Nell.

The shearers are providing an essential service.

"We rely on the shearers to give them a bit of a face clean-up, the rest of us can't go to the hairdressers right now but the sheep still get their service, they get their backsides tidied up, so it'll mean that they don't get any fly burden," says farmer Charlotte Rietveld.

To do that job, it means the shearers have to travel onto farms. Extreme measures have been taken so they can safely work while the country is in lockdown.

"We're having to use our long-handled sweep instead of our board sweep, which are shorter ones," says Brittany Smith.

"We have the stand we're having to keep them separate just to keep the two-metre distance between shearers and when we're sweeping the crutch we have to bring it right away from the shearers so we can sort it out that way." 

While the shearing crew are working they're operating from their own tight bubble and the shearing shed here is their domain. While they're working no one goes in, not even the farm owner.

And incredibly they're not just working together, but living together too - a sacrifice this farming family couldn't appreciate more.

"It's not easy, it's sort of piecemeal work at times, long distances, weather dependent. It's tough stuff, and yet they're carrying on through this so we really respect what they're doing," says Rietveld

Going above and beyond to get the job done.