Bald sheep put end to record hope

By Doug Laing

Three shearers who were shattered by a decision scrapping their world record in Southern Hawke's Bay yesterday responded the only way they knew how - shearing the sheep anyway.

But it wasn't just another day's shearing for Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa, and Dannevirke mates Adam Brausch and Ringa Paewai, who still had more than 200 people come to watch in a remote, stinking-hot woolshed southeast of Ormondville, despite the overnight edict of the judges.

All three were on the board at 7am, each with personal goals to shear more than 700 lambs in eight hours, something new to the Dannevirke boys but well within the range of Ferguson, who sheared 744 in a solo record two years ago.

Dannevirke contractor Darrin Paewai, for whom the three are working, said just to get the motivation running after hearing the record bid was off was "huge" but a lot of "mana and pride" was at stake as the shearers still made a day of it for the sponsors and a crew of at least 40 working supporters.

"They were very disappointed but they've dug very deep," Mr Paewai said, as the shearers ripped into their task mid-afternoon, after hitting the lunch break with four hours and 1035 lambs behind them, which indicated they would have been well capable of breaking the 14-year-old mark of 1784 for the eight-hour day.

"The people have still come out to see them. They've been coming out all day," he said.

Records society secretary Hugh McCarroll of Tauranga said the judges, including one from Australia, inspected sheep and consulted with record management for more than six hours before deciding about 9.30pm on Wednesday that the lambs did not have sufficient head wool.

The judges had gone to the woolshed at Moa Stone Farm for the traditional day-before wool-weigh, where a sample of lambs is shorn to ensure they meet an average minimum of 0.9kg of wool per lamb, a target which was safely reached.

But many were "bald" about the head, Mr McCarroll said, adding: "There was just not enough top-knot. All of the judges commented as they arrived driving past the sheep in the paddocks, there's not a lot of top-knot on these sheep."

"It was very disappointing," he said. "They hadn't done enough homework. It will be a bit of a wake-up call for everybody."

Event manager Bill Hale said the judges had needed at least 90 per cent to meet the head wool requirement. "Got 83 per cent, fought hard, but couldn't get the break," he said.

About 2500 lambs had been set aside for the record, the removal of several hundred left insufficient lambs within the rules.

One shearer estimated that if all the animals were shorn without a need to remove the top-knot and whisk around the ears, it could have been a saving of a second-and-a-half per lamb, or add as many as 25 lambs to each man's tally during the day. The rules are aimed at protecting the integrity of the records system and the interests of others who have shorn records in the past.

In the true spirit of the day, the men were last night packing up, ready for their home Dannevirke A&P; Show today.

For the record, albeit unjudged and unofficial, the trio sheared 2061 for the day, with Ferguson 696, Brausch 691 and Paewai 674.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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