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Farmside

A bigger world stage for sheep shearing goes viral

20 Jan 2012
A bigger world stage for sheep shearing goes viral The media response to sheep shearing’s potential as a Commonwealth Games demonstration sport, if not the Olympics, has gone international.

“Shearing as a demonstration sport has gone viral,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“Yesterday it was Australian media but today it has been media from the UK. Give it another day or so and maybe the Letterman Show will start calling.

“I’ve had interviews with BBC regional stations but am being interviewed by Skype for BBC One. Being at the outer reaches of wireless broadband, I just hope the weather plays ball. Rural broadband cannot come fast enough.

“I’ve also checked Google News and shearing sport has generated at least 262 news items. From ESPN and a Washington Post blog to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, you can say it has grabbed imaginations the world over.

“Some of it may drip with sarcasm but it’s giving us the chance to tell people overseas that sheep don’t die for their wool. Unbelievable as it may sound to Kiwi ears, some people overseas believe wool is like fur.

“By talking about shearing, shearing sports and farming in New Zealand, we can help to clear a big misconception. It could help to get more people into wool and New Zealand wool especially.

“While wool is natural, renewable and completely sustainable, it needs more and perhaps sport provides that magic.

“Our shearing athletes, men and woman alike, are in peak physical condition. When people wear New Zealand wool it has come from the work of people like of Ivan Scott and Kerri-Jo Te Huia.

“We can also add Stacey Te Huia and Sam Welch. Yesterday, they broke a 16-year world record for two-stand nine-hour ewe-shearing. They shore 1,341 big unwieldy ewes over nine hours, or well over two ewes every single minute.

“This hand-crafted human dimension is what makes wool unique. Its price point isn’t much different from oil based artificial fibres but it has an inherent craftsmanship and skill about it. This is something oil-based fibres cannot match.

“It’s about putting the magic into wool and our shearing athletes are an ace in that respect.

“I’m under no illusion that this will take time but given the big eight sheep counties are China, Australia, India, Iran, Sudan, New Zealand, Nigeria and the United Kingdom, shearing is more global than many people think,” Mrs Maxwell concluded.