A South Otago shearing contractor says it is the hardest it has ever been to find staff and there is significant need for a national trainer.

Jason Davis has been in the shearing industry for 33 years and now owns Davis Shearing Contractors, which he took over from his father, Ron, 12 years ago.

''I just love it [shearing]. I used to travel a lot chasing the seasons to England and Australia, but after a while I got sick of living out of a suitcase.''

Mr Davis said he was shearing as soon as he left school and although he was more in charge of the management side of things he still ''picked up a handpiece occasionally''.


He said the last main shear, which ran from January to early April, was the hardest it had ever been to find staff.

''When I started shearing there was so many people taking it up. Now, you very rarely get someone knock on your door saying they want to go shearing.''

President of the New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association Mark Barrowcliffe said the previous Te Ako Wools training course ended earlier this year due to tertiary funding from Primary ITO not aligning with the industry.

Mr Barrowcliffe said there was ''defiantly a need'' for a national trainer and he was working with both Primary ITO and industry to try to find a solution.

Davis Shearing Contractors covered from Balclutha to Oamaru and the surrounding areas.

The business employed about 30 shearers in the off season but Mr Davis said the number jumped to about 80 almost overnight heading into the main shear.

Although Mr Davis did train some of his own staff, he said it would be ideal if there was a national training body that meant everyone got taught the same.

''I've had great male and female shearers ... but they need to be trained properly. Training is the biggest issue shearing's got.''


- Southern Rural Life