How's it done?

The shearer turns the sheep on its back to keep it still and skilfully removes the fleece in one piece with electric shears. It's like having a haircut and doesn't hurt the sheep. Many farmers hire in professional shearers who are very skilled at the job and work fast; they can shear a sheep in less than two minutes. Depending on the breed of sheep, a fleece will weigh 3-5kgs; that's enough wool to make a man's suit or 100 miles of fine yarn.

Then what?

The shorn fleeces are carefully folded and packed into large sacks. These are taken to the British Wool Board's depot in Liskeard where the wool is graded according to quality and colour before being sold. The British Wool Board finds a market for most of the wool from British sheep, paying the farmer according to the grade of the fleece. Much of the wool produced in Cornwall is used to make carpets.

Before it can be used, the wool must be washed to remove the natural grease; this is lanolin which is used in soap and face cream. Then the wool must be combed and spun into yarn.