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Young Shearers Boost Competition Entries

For Immediate Release
22 March 2006

Young Shearers Boost Competition Entries

An influx in the number of young shearers has boosted entries in the New Zealand Shearing Championships and restored optimism in the shearing industry.

Championships President Jim Gibb says the number of shearers entered in the junior classes of the Championships had more than doubled when entries for the March 31 to April 1 competition in Te Kuiti closed on March 18.

“It is extremely heartening to see the increase in the number of entries in the lower grades of the championships. It is something we haven’t seen for some time which had meant the average age of shearers and those participating in shearing sports had crept up to about 40 years.

“The increase in entries demonstrates shearing has turned the corner. It is great news for the industry,” Mr Gibb says.

Overall, 344 shearers and woolhandlers had entered the championships although more late entries were anticipated, with close to 400 shearers expected to compete at the event.

“At this stage 76 shearers will compete for the open title, which is a huge field and well up on last year,” Mr Gibb says.

“We are really pleased with the level of interest in all classes, especially the junior grades.”

The number of shearers entered in the junior grade had doubled to 20, from 11 last year, while the number in the junior woolhandling grade had tripled to 20, from just five last year.

To compete as a junior, shearers must not shear any more than 240 lambs or 185 adult sheep in an eight hour day. If they win more than three junior titles, they are also moved up a class, to the intermediate class.

Champion shearer David Fagan says the prices paid to shearers had increased steadily in the past few years, lifting their take home pay and making shearing more competitive with other career options.

“In the 1980s and 1990s there were periods of up to four years when the shearing price was constant. Now it has been going up annually for some time, so the young guys can see there’s some money in it.”

Mr Fagan says there are currently good opportunities for shearers, with shearers able to shear about 200 sheep a day pocketing about $300 a day.

“What the young guys have also learnt is they can earn good money and travel the world at the same time. If their partner is a woolhandler they are sought after, as you not only have a shearer but you have someone to handle the wool as well.”

He says New Zealand shearers are sought after in Australia, USA, UK and South America for shearing.

The lower grades of the New Zealand Shearing Championships kick off on Thursday March 31, with the open final offering $15,500 in prizes to the winner being held on Saturday April 1.

The Championships major sponsors are FMG, Super Shear, Merial, DB, Otorohonda and Honda First.

ENDS

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