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Sunday Shearing Record Bid

Ewe-shearing record hopeful Amy Silcock started shearing because she wanted to see the World and didn’t want to be ”one of those people who gets to 40 and has never done it.”

That was when she was 28 and farming, but, now 37, it’s much more than a yearning for the travel, which has taken her to the UK and Australia. It is, she says, the shearing “bug”, and on Sunday, at Ross na Clonagh Farm, near Pahiatua, she will have her third go at a World record in four years.

Having shorn in some competitions, with two wins in smaller Junior competitions in 2014, she’s already in the books after shearing 423 in a Women’s four-stand 9-hours women’s record near Turangi in January 2020, she was undeterred by finishing well short of the mark in a first bid for the solo 8-hour ewes record at Ross na Clonagh at the end of January last year.

Chasing the record of 370 shorn by Kent farmer and shearer Marie Prebble in establishing a record for the classification in Cornwall in August 2022, she managed just 348, but immediately afterwards said it was a learning experience and she’d be back for another attempt “soon”.

Simply speaking, the sheep had an average of more than a kilogram more than the minimum required average of 3kg a head, it rained, and she says she realised she’d taken-on too much of the work of getting the record attempt under way, in an environment known for the way large crews gather in the spirit of the industry to help their shearer across the line.

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Starting at 7am, as she will again on Sunday, she sheared on despite the target becoming more and more unrealisable, but now keeps a promise, hoping to join the list of those taking apart the women’s solo strongwool records in the 2023-2024 summer.

On December 15, Gore shearer Megan Whitehead sheared a record 8-hours lambs tally of 686, and four days later King Country-based Sacha Bond sheared a 9-hours record of 720 in a Southland woolshed, to which she’ll return for a nine-hours ewes record attempt on February 9.

Silcock, whose childhood background on a farm near Murchison and a family move to farm in the North Island sparked the learning to shear while working on a farm in Taranaki and the eventual leasing of a block in the Tapawera area back south of Nelson, expects to do about 13 a quarter-hour – which would take her ahead of the pace early and realise a tally of about 410 for the day.

But, with champion speed shearer Jimmy Samuels timekeeping at her side she hopes to get 15, an average of 120 a run, which would compare with the successive runs of 94, 93, 93 and 90 shorn by Prebble 17 months ago.

Others on-side include Dannevirke shearing contractor Scott Welsh, Rakaia shearer Alex Smith looking after her combs and cutters, and woolhandlers Kirstin Chittock and Marina Hauiti.

Whatever, with more than a tonne of wool likely to have been shorn, from about 20 tonnes of sheep testing the back during the day at about 60kg each, the record will be challenged again just three days later, next Wednesday, with a bid by Catherine Mullooly, originally from Matawai, near Gisborne, and a competition shearer with a history of wins in the Junior, Intermediate and Senior classes.

Five record attempts are currently scheduled in New Zealand in the next five weeks under the auspices of the World Sheep Shearing Records Society, which has appointed panels of judges for each of the events.

They are:

January 7 (Sunday): Amy Silcock will attempt the Women's solo 8-hour strongwool ewes record of 370 Ross Na Clonagh Farm, 7 Balance Road, Pahiatua, from 7am-5pm.

January 10 (Wednesday): Catherine Mullooly will attempt the Women’s solo 8-hour strongwool ewes record at Nukuhakari Station, 780 Te Marama Road, Waikawau, King Country, from 7am-5pm.

January 14 (Sunday): A Forde Winders Shearing crew of Max Winders, Trent Hewes, Trevor Holland, Ben Boyle, and Josef Winders will attempt the five-stand 8-hours strongwool lambs record of 2910 Campbell’s Block Hokonui Hills, Gore, from 7am-5pm.

January 19 (Friday): A Sutton Shearing crew of Hemi Braddick, Ray Kinsman, and Flynn Harvey will attempt the three-stand 8-hours lambs record of 1611 at Pohuetai Station, 516 Otope Road, Dannevirke, from 7am-5pm.

February 9 (Friday): Sacha Bond will attempt the Women’s solo 9-hours strongwool ewes record of 452 at Centrehill Station, 611 Centrehill Road, Mossburn, from 5am-5pm.

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