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SHEARING WET SHEEP.

A DOCTOR'S OPINION

One of the clauses in the shearers' award makes provision for the men to object to handle -sheep on which the wool is not thoroughly dry. There is considerable divergence of opinion as to -the proper toethod of ascertaining when wool is free from dainprjess^ and so far no mechanicaLcontrivaTico^that has been introduced- as :an*ald in?this direction has been adopted. Very' few men can tell by simply'handling- the sheep whether they are in a fit condition to be shorn, especially when there is'any quantity of grease in the wool. A great deal of guesswork is indulged in. Owners themselves are seldom able- to give a lead in this direction, and it often happens that shearing operations are proceeded with when another few hours in the open air would have made all the difference. The danger accruing from shearing^ wet sheep is usually associated with, spontaneous combustion and depreciation of the product. ' There i©_ another very serious sidVof the question, that is, in relation to the ill effects uponthe men. who, handle the sheep. ; In' connection with this matter Dr John Kennedy Freyer made some interesting remarks when giving evidence at the hearing of. the claims made by the Australian Workers' Union against the Pastdralists' Federal Council of Australia, which will' apply to New Zealand as well as Australia. Dr Freyer said he had been in Australia a great many years, and bad opportunities of observing the effects upon shearers of shearing wet sheep. ' The first case came under his notice when be was in the western district of Victoria. He used to spend his; holidays on various stations in that district, and noticed that shearers seemed to have a horror in shearing wet sheep. In addition to his private practice, for eight years, from 1892, he was also Government medical officer, and medical officer to the Tenterfield Hospital. He had practical expericence or the j dangers of shearing wet sheep. Shearers were constantly passing through his hands, both in the hospital and private practice, and he observed that they suffered from particular affections. The commonest of .these was rheumatic troubles, joint affections. There were also cases of pneumonia, and a peculiar skin affection, a pustular eruption, which the shearers called boils. This pustular eruption mostly affected the back of the forearm between the wrist, and elbow, where it . came in contact with the sheep. He found these eruptions rather intractable. | At present he was, and had been for the past 10 years, practising at Orange, where he also had experience or treating shearers. His opinion was that the shearing of wet sheep was certainly injurious and the cause of these diseases. His theory was that they arose from: the fact that shearers perspired very freely in their work, and their bodies coming in contact with wet sheep there was more liability of absorbing infection. The fleeces were always dirty, and carried infection. In his opinion, as a medical man, it was not safe for shearers to shear wet sheep. ; Witness said that of the 30 shearers attended by him in the past 10 years at least six of them suffered from these pustular eruptions. There were also cases of pneumonia and rheumatism. During the last 12 months he had treated at least 20 cases of pneumonia, but would not liko to say that any of them were shearers. To his Honor: He would say that pustular'affections were more common 'among .shearers than among other occupations. This affection was so peculiar that if he were to see a ca^e at present he would immediately assume the occupation of the patient. , Butchers and slaughtermen, accus- '. tomed to handling stock and skins, ! were also subject to pustular eruptions, but of a different kind to the shearers.

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/MEX19110906.2.4

Bibliographic details

SHEARING WET SHEEP., Marlborough Express, Volume XLV, Issue 206, 6 September 1911

Word Count
629

SHEARING WET SHEEP. Marlborough Express, Volume XLV, Issue 206, 6 September 1911

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