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Farmers count the cost as wool prices hit an all-time low

Image credit: Mike Radcliffe Photography

Social media photos spark discussion

Photographs on social media of piles of wool from sheared sheep in a local field has put the spotlight on the depressed state of the world market.

The price for wool globally is historically low - brought about by falling demand and changing consumer habits.

Sheep farmers here can expect between five pence and £3 per kilo.

The higher prices are generally for wool from rarer breeds which can be converted into niche products such as scarves and jumpers.

The vast majority of the breeds reared on the Island are for the meat market - as a result the fleeces are generally lower grade and don't command a high price.

Much of what is produced locally would, in the past, have gone to carpet production but the move towards synthetic fibres, and hard flooring, has taken its toll.

Globally much of the low grade wool finds its way to China to be turned into commodities such as insulating material.

On the Isle of Man the bulk of the surplus wool is received by a private contractor and shipped off Island.

Whereas wool was once a useful extra income stream for farmers it has, in many cases, become an unwanted by-product of sheep production.

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