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World Lamb Shearing Record In Southland

The stage is being set for a unique attempt in Southland next week on a World shearing record which has gone unchallenged for 13 years.

Gore shearer Megan Whitehead, 24, will attempt the solo women’s nine-hours strongwool lamb shearing record of 648 (72 an hour), set on November 27, 2007, by Waikato shearer Emily Welch. The previous record of 541 had been set in 1989. Megan has been shearing in recent months in Hawke’s Bay and King Country, as well as adhering to a specific physical training regime.

Megan’s attempt will take place at the Grant Brothers woolshed, 76 Croydon Bush Rd, Croydon Bush, Gore North 9774, on Thursday, January 14, starting at 5am and finishing at 5pm.

The shearer: Megan Whitehead, a daughter of former shearers Quentin Whitehead and Tina McColl, is already the joint holder of one World record, the four-stand eight-hours women’s record of 2066 lambs set in the central North Island on January 23 last year (2020). She shore a personal best of 608, the best of the day and at an average of 76 an hour.

The record: Under the auspices of the World Sheep Shearing Records Society, there are standard rules, with five “runs” during the day, from 5am-7am, 8am-9.45am, 10.15am-Noon, 1pm-2.45pm, and 3.15pm-5pm, separated by one-hour breakfast and lunch breaks, and half-hour morning and afternoon “smoko” (morning and afternoon-tea breaks). For comparison sake, eight-hours records are done in four two-hour runs. Both 9hrs and 8hrs are standard working days in New Zealand woolsheds.

Five judges have been appointed (one watching via AVL from Australia because of Covid-19 travel restrictions) to ensure appropriate quality and record rules are adhered to. Judges will on Wednesday oversee the shearing of 20 sample lambs, from which the average clip must be a minimum of 0.9k of wool per lamb for the attempt to go ahead. During the attempt the judges may remove individual sheep from the tally or even call the event off early if the quality is below the required standards.

In the record 13 years ago, Emily Welch shore 144 in the two hours before breakfast followed by successive 1hr 45min runs of 125, 123, 127, and 129.

Costs: More than 70 people will be involved in making sure the event runs smoothly on the day.

There are considerable costs involved which include world record fees, judges expenses, accommodation, food, shed preparation etc. A large team of valued sponsors have been gathered to support Team Whitehead with Snowline Rams being the Platinum sponsor.

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