LEARNING TO BE A SHEEP SHEARER AS AN ADDITIONAL INCOME STREAM
British shearing has gained a lot of attention in recent years, with a number of world and UK record shearing attempts taking place. It has helped to attract a new generation of sheep shearers, such as 23-year- old Lloyd Rees, who lives near Brecon in Powys, Wales. He already has a number of achievements under his belt, having won several championships at the Royal Welsh, including the seniors in 2016. He is now paid to shear for 10 months of the year and he travels extensively as a result of his work. He says that the professional training he received from the outset was essential in helping him to improve his skills and the quality of his work.
He first attended a British Wool course at the tender age of 16 and went on to progress through various courses to achieve gold level in his field.
He explains: “Every course has taught me something and I think it’s hugely important to continue training to improve your technique and understanding. If you want to be good at shearing your own sheep, attend a course so that you can learn to shear in a basic fashion. If you want to compete, it’s vital that you improve and develop skills and, of course, your speed so you need to continue learning.”
The handling side is equally important, as the fabulously-named Jayne HarknessBones, a wool handling champion, can certainly testify. A fully-trained art psychotherapist and drummer in a band called Vokxen, Jayne recently returned to her farming roots by taking up a position as a wool depot manager for Ulster Wool in Northern Ireland.
Jayne, an enthusiastic wool handler from the age of eight, says: “A career change was a massive thing for me, but when you are born into an industry for which you have a passion, it will always draw you back in time.” When she isn’t working in the depot, she helps her father, Robert, on the family farm.
Jayne also believes that training plays a vital role in success. “Many people think that wool handling is easy; they then try to lift and handle the fleece and it doesn’t quite work out how they imagined. You have to understand the process of shearing a sheep before you can grasp the process of how to effectively and efficiently handle wool. It may not be rocket science, but you have to learn it, and only ongoing training and development can help you achieve this. Farmers want to get as much return as possible for their clip, but if they don’t look after it, their return won’t be as profitable.” And she adds: “Wool is a very versatile fibre so respect and appreciate it — and take care of it as one of the world’s most natural products.”
Jayne Harkness-Bones is a wool handling champion