A group of Taranaki women has started honing their shearing skills ahead of qualifying rounds for the next Young Farmer of the Year contest.
The women are members of Central Taranaki Young Farmers.
The club recently crutched 800 hoggets at Guy and Michele Brown's Mangamingi farm east of Eltham, as part of a fundraiser.
The bulk of the work was shouldered by experienced by members, but one stand in the woolshed was set aside for beginners.
"They probably crutched five sheep in the time it took me to do one," says Taranaki Federated Farmers office manager Jessie Waite.
"I've never sheared a sheep before, so it was awesome to get the opportunity to have a go. I really enjoyed it."
Tara Miller is a herd manager on a 400-cow dairy farm at Tariki and was buzzing after the experience.
"It was such a fun day. I think the hardest bit is catching the sheep in the holding pen," Tara says.
That was Stacey Deacon's favourite part.
"I really enjoyed bringing the sheep out for the shearers," says Stacey, who's second-in-charge on a 390-cow dairy farm in Stratford.
"I've never had anything to do with sheep before, so it was great to broaden my skill base."
The eager learners were shown the ropes by Michael Fabish, who's been shearing professionally for more than a decade.
"They did really well," he says.
"A lot of people don't get the chance to have a go and learn because most farms use shearing gangs."
Assembling a handpiece or shearing a sheep can be part of qualifying rounds for the Young Farmer of the Year.
"Days like today give you more confidence to enter district contests and skills days," Jessie says.
Michael Fabish says an experienced shearer can crutch between 200 and 300 sheep in two hours.
"Bending over when you're learning can be quite demanding. But it gets easier once you've done it for long enough," he said.
Crutching helps reduce the risk of fly-strike, by keeping a sheep's backside and rear legs clean.