A Visit to the Falklands

Of course I have to justify a visit to the Falklands as a "work"trip and I almost can because I encountered and learned a little about the Falklands sheep and even bottle fed a lamb.

The Falklands consists of two main islands East & West Falkland and are surrounded by about 700 smaller islets some inhabited and some not.  The combined land mass is approximately the size of Wales.  Some of the islands are privately owned and almost all of them that are big enough are used for sheep farming.  The uniqueness of the place is a combination of its isolation, its prolific bird and sea shore life, its successful farming economy and the gritty determination of the people who make it all work.

The vegetation is a little limited in variety as there are almost no trees, and the low gorse and "Diddle-Dee"make for a uniform landscape with the odd hill and pond which break it.  It is very beautiful though, the sea is a rich cobalt blue, the air is clear and crisp.

Sheep are tough on the Falklands, they are wild in spirit and are left on the pastures to lamb themselves.  They are rounded up once a year (the horse having been replaced by quad bikes) for shearing, and a travelling group of shearers visits each sheep station to perform the extraordinary feat of de-wooling 20,000 sheep at a time.  Competition is fierce and prestige is keenly sought in establishing the local shearing heroes - the largest fleece, the most sheep sheared etc. 

The breed of sheep are dual purpose for wool and meat and are sent to slaughter at the age of 6-7 years.  The quality of the wool, however is excellent with an average fibre diameter of 24 microns.  The soft, moist sea air is supposed to have something to do with it.  The predominant breed is Polwarth and Corriedale although the South African mutton merino (SAMMS) and Dohne do well too and has recently been introduced. 

The raw wool (approx 1,600 tonnes of greasy) is shipped straight to the U.K. where it is sold on auction and processed in Bradford into beautifully soft yarns.  The wool price has been strong for a few years so farming is a good business.  The farms are run usually with no labour, acheter cialis generique just the family unit with help from neighbours when needed; generally the sheep require very little care.  There are 84 farms with an average of 6,400 sheep each on 10,000 hectares.  There are virtually no parasites on the island so dipping and deworming are seldom done.  Tails are docked and males are castrated when they are young and off they all go. 

Although fishing has now become the major source of income for the Islands, sheep farming is the main source of land use.

 Tourism is a growing industry, although thankfully the islands are still remote and travel is complicated by the weather and short summer.  The place remains unspoiled and ruggedly beautiful.