Hawke's Bay shearer Rowland Smith's World eight-hour ewe-shearing record remained intact today after an attempt on the tally of 644 was abandoned less than half-way through the bid in Southland.

Tuatapere-based Leon Samuels had shorn 264 after three-and-a-half hours of the attempt at Argyle Station, Waikaia, north of Gore, before the decision was made to end the attempt about 11.15am with the target considerably out of reach.

Starting at 7am and needing an average of just over 161 for each two-hour run to break the record Smith set in England on July 24 last year, breaking a record of 605 set by Samuels at Argyle Station five months earlier, Samuels had shorn just 150 to the morning smoko break, already over five an hour short of the target.

At a pre-record woolweigh on Sunday, a sample of 10 sheep averaged 3.69kg each, considerably clear of the 3kg minimum average set by the World Sheep Shearing Records Society.

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It indicated the size of the sheep and an official at the shed said soon after the end was announced: "They were 600 (a day) sheep, not 650."

Smith had flown south saying at the weekend it was a mark of respect for anyone prepared to tackle the tally.

"That's what records are for," he said. "They're there to be broken."