Sheep shearer

Sheep shearer

A sheep shearer is a worker who uses (hand-powered)-blade or machine shears to remove the wool from domestic sheep.


During the early years of sheep breeding in Australia, shearing was carried out by shepherds, assigned servants, Ticket-of-Leave men and free labourers using blade shears. As the sheep industry expanded, more shearers were required. Although the demand had increased, the conditions had not, and shearers had to contend with terrible working conditions, very long hours and low pay. In 1888, Australia became the first country in the world have a complete shearing, at Dunlop Station, finished using machines. By 1915, most large Australian sheep station shearing sheds had machines that were powered by steam engines. Later, internal combustion engines powered machines until rural power supplies became available.

heep Shearing today

In most countries with large sheep flocks, the shearer is one of a contractor's team that go from property to property shearing sheep and preparing the wool for market. A workday starts at 7:30 am and the day is divided into 4 “runs” of 2 hours each. “Smoko” breaks of a half hour each are at 9:30 am and again at 3 pm. The lunch break is taken at 12 midday for one hour. Most shearers are paid on a piece rate, i.e., per sheep. The shearer collects a sheep from a catching pen, positions it on his “stand” on the shearing board and operates the shearing hand-piece. A shearer begins by removing the coarse wool over the sheep's belly, which is separated from the main fleece by a rouseabout while the sheep is still being shorn. The remainder of the fleece is taken off in one piece by following an efficient set of movements.

In the case of powered shears, the movements were largely devised by Godfrey Bowen approximately 1950 [ the Bowen Technique] , by or the Tally-Hi method. In 1963, the Tally-Hi shearing system was developed by the Australian Wool Corporation and promoted using synchronised shearing demonstrations. Sheep struggle less using the Tally-Hi method, reducing strain on the shearer and there is a saving of about 30 seconds shearing each sheep. When finished, the shorn sheep is removed from the board via a chute in the floor, or wall, to a counting out pen, efficiently removing it from the shed.

The latest shearing patterns which are used by some of the most efficient shearers around the world, world record holders, world champions, etc. have less blows due to better sheep control and positioning. These patterns ensure that there is less strain placed on the sheep and the shearers due to the advanced techniques used. []

A professional or "gun" shearer typically removes a fleece without badly marking or cutting the sheep in two to three minutes, depending on the size and condition of the sheep, or less than two in elite competitive shearing. Shearers who “tally” more than 200 sheep per day are known as “gun shearers”. Gun shearers using blade shears can achieve much lower numbers, about 50 to 70 a day.

In 1984, Australia became the last country in the world to permit the use of wide combs, due to previous Australian Workers Union rulings.


On 10 October,1892, Jackie Howe set a record of 321 sheep shorn in seven hours and 40 minutes, using blade shears. He had previously set a weekly aggregate record of 1,437 sheep over a total working week of 44 hours and 30 minutes.

While Howe's weekly aggregate record remained until at least 2005, his daily record tally was broken using machine shears by Ted Reick in 1950.In competition sports shearers, using blades or machine driven hand-pieces, can achieve short-term rates that are greater than for day shearers.

Dwayne Black holds an incredible six world records, mainly in the endurance or marathon events. In April 2005, he spent a gruelling nine hours shearing 513 merino ewes, six more than the previous world record

On 2nd March 2007, Broomehill shearer Brendan Boyle set the world 24-hour sheep shearing record by shearing 841 full wool merino sheep, and in the process raised over $20,000 for the fight against prostate cancer. It was the first time a record has been set in 24 hours sheep shearing. A great effort, but for the record to be officially recognised, it needs to be overseen by the World Sheep Shearing Records Committee. This committee has a set of rules, and official referees in three member countries for the specific purpose of ensuring records are set under the same rules and consistent referees in these countries. [ ]



"Australian Encyclopaedia", Vol. VIII

ee also

* Sheep shearing
* Sheep station
* Shearing shed
* 1891 Australian shearers' strike

External links

* [ NZ women sets shearing record] - Farmnews, NZ
* [ The Bowen Technique]
* [ David Fagan, gun shearer]
* [ Jack Howe]
* [ Shearing sports in New Zealand]
* [ Golden Shears, New Zealand. Some of the strongest women in the world]
* [ A man who can shear]
* [ Sports shear Australia]
* [ Shearing Equipment]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sheep-shearer — Sheep shear er, n. One who shears, or cuts off the wool from, sheep. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Sheep shearing — Sheep shearing, shearing or clipping is the process by which the woollen fleece of a sheep is cut off. The person who removes the sheep s wool is called a shearer . Typically each adult sheep is shorn once each year (a sheep may be said to have… …   Wikipedia

  • Shearer — A shearer is someone who shears, such as a sheep shearer.Additionally, Shearer is the surname of people:In sports*Alan Shearer, an English footballer *Bobby Shearer, a Scottish footballer *Dale Shearer, an Australian rugby league player *Duncan… …   Wikipedia

  • Shearer — Recorded as Shearer, Sherer, Sharer, Shirer, Shera (English and Scottish), Scherer, Scheerer, Scherrer (German), Sherer, Szerer (Polish and Ashkenasic), and possibly others, this is an occupational surname. It derives from the pre 7th century Old …   Surnames reference

  • shearer — shear|er [ˈʃıərə US ˈʃırər] n also sheep .shearer someone who cuts the wool off sheep …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • shearer — also sheep shearer noun (C) someone who cuts the wool off sheep …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • shearer —   Mea ako.    ♦ Sheep shearer, mea ako hulu hipa …   English-Hawaiian dictionary

  • shearer — /ˈʃɪərə / (say shearruh) noun 1. someone who shears sheep, especially as a means of livelihood. 2. someone who uses shears on metal, textiles, leather, or other materials. 3. a sheep that is fit and ready for shearing, or that yields a good… …   Australian English dictionary

  • shearer — UK [ˈʃɪərə(r)] / US [ʃɪrər] noun [countable] Word forms shearer : singular shearer plural shearers someone whose job is to cut the wool from sheep …   English dictionary

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