As shearing season begins across the UK, farmers and contractors have been encouraged to uphold industry standards and protect its reputation.
It follows the release of videos by animals rights organisation PETA last year, which showed incidences of animal abuse on 25 farms in England.
The industry has now produced a set of guidelines for anyone working in the shearing shed, to ensure it presents itself in an acceptable light.
The guide explains responsibilities so that every step from the presentation of sheep on farm, through to livestock handling and the shearing process is 'well-planned, organised and calmly implemented'.
It includes a checklist that helps farmers and shearers to prepare in advance so that the entire operation goes as efficiently as possible.
The National Sheep Association (NSA) said animal rights and vegan campaigners will 'take any opportunity to attack the industry'.
NSA Chief Executive, Phil Stocker said: “It is absolutely vital that all involved in shearing, and indeed any sheep handling activity, ensure they are working at the highest possible standard.
“While we know that sheep welfare is improved by shearing as the weather warms, these organisations espouse the message that we are simply doing it for profit and care not a jot for the welfare of the sheep.
“These animal rights campaigning groups will take any opportunity to attack our industry and even small slip ups, observed by the wrong person, can be extremely damaging and time consuming to deal with. Our best line of defence is to limit their opportunities.”
He added: “For those more adventurous souls it may even be worth inviting local people in to watch and I’d put money on far more people being impressed than concerned.”
Sheep shearing is essential for reducing the likelihood of disease and parasitic infections which cause health and welfare problems for sheep.