Saturday, October 20, 2018

Champion shearer reveals secrets of record attempt

July 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Livestock


As this summer’s sheep shearing season hots up, shearers of all abilities are being urged to consider the four keys to a successful season: health, fitness, nutrition and equipment.

That is the advice from Selwyn Williams, who recently delivered a national series of shearing workshops in conjunction with Allflex and reigning world champion MattSmith who sheared 731 sheep in nine hours.

“A safe and efficient shearing technique is dependent on being physically and mentally prepared as well as choosing the right equipment and ensuring it is properly serviced,” explains Mr Williams, who is research and development manager for clipper specialists Heiniger.

“Shearing is physically demanding so moderate exercise such as weight training to work the arms, legs and thighs is needed to achieve a good level of strength, while aerobic work, will improve heart and lung function.

“Strengthening the abdominal muscles to provide good core stability is also essential as this will relieve pressure on the lower back and reduce the risk of injury.”

5,000 calories daily

Mr Williams estimates that a shearer will burn more than 5,000 calories a day during the season. A protein and carbohydrate rich diet is therefore needed to provide adequate fuel, he says.

“Foods high in protein such as fish, red meat and eggs, as well as energy rich foods such as potatoes, pasta and rice, will stabilise blood sugar levels and maintain stamina whilst shearing.

“Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables should also be consumed to ensure adequate vitamins and minerals are taken on.  Finally, shearers should try to avoid too many fried or fatty foods and should limit their intake of sugary, caffeinated or alcoholic drinks.”

From an equipment perspective, shearers should start by focusing on what they are wearing. “Shearing specific clothing will not only ensure the shearer remains comfortable, but will also assist with flexibility and grip. Shearing singlets for example are longer than standard vests to accommodate for continuous bending, while leather moccasins make it easy to move across the shearing shed floor.”

Correct hardware

Regardless of experience, choosing the right hardware is essential. In terms of hand pieces, combs and cutters, price and performance go hand in hand, says Mr Williams.

“Buying on price alone can be a false economy as low grade materials and sub-standard manufacturing methods can lead to problems in terms of shearing quality whilst equipment reliability can compromise the safety of the shearer and sheep.”

The most popular hand pieces are those which are run from a shearing machine.  “With many types and brands to choose from, selecting the right model comes down to performance, comfort, longevity and minimal maintenance requirements.

“Similarly, with a vast selection of combs and cutters to choose from, selecting the right option comes down to three main factors: the shearer’s experience, the type of wool being cut, and the different breed or breeds of sheep being handled.”

When it comes to shearing machines, Selwyn advocates the need for a safe machine over everything else. The best machines are simple to set up and extremely reliable, he explains – but most of all they are safe and fully electrically insulated with an auto-stop function to prevent injury.


For shearers handling large numbers of sheep, a good quality sharpening grinder is essential for maintaining comb and cutter performance.  “A machine equipped with a pendulum carrier will give the best results and is more cost and time-effective compared to sending combs and cutters away to be sharpened by a third party.”

Mr Williams’ final piece of advice is to ensure all equipment is regularly maintained.  “Even the best equipment will fail if it is not regularly maintained, leading to downtime, costly repairs and possible injury to the sheep or its operator.”

Regarding hand piece maintenance, the recommendation is for oil, oil and more oil.  “Put simply, applying a little and often is the best practice. A hand piece operates at between 3,000 to 3,500 rpm,” says Mr Williams.




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