The National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) is delighted to announce that international sheep shearers have a special concession to be able to enter the UK in 2024, meaning that we can again access this vital source of professional and experienced staff to assist UK contractors during the shearing season.

Since 2011, the NAAC has worked closely with the Home Office to successfully manage a special concession for highly skilled, overseas shearers to come to the UK to assist in shearing the UK flock.

The scheme has meant that the UK has been able to encourage non-visa national shearers from overseas (particularly New Zealand and Australia) to come for a short, limited period to ensure that sheep are shorn on time, thus protecting their welfare.

Commenting Jill Hewitt, NAAC Chief Executive said: “This is a well-managed scheme, which gives our UK shearing team a boost at a critical time with international shearers coming in with experience and competence to take on a job that is highly skilled.

Sheep shearing is a very specialist and physical occupation that simply can’t just be picked up by anyone. It should only be carried out by professionals who have been trained to shear carefully and sympathetically to ensure that sheep are handled appropriately to avoid stress and injury during the shearing process.’

Adult sheep should be shorn at least once every year to help reduce the risk of external parasites and to avoid heat stress. In the main, shearing is carried out to improve animal welfare rather than for the value of the wool.Industry guidance is available.