Excitement reached fever pitch at the RUAS/Zoetis Sheep Shearing finals at Balmoral Show as competitors reached their 12th and final sheep with only seconds separating the fastest three shearers.
The top three times were Jack Robinson 13 minutes 14 seconds; Tom Perry 13 minutes 17 seconds and Graeme Davidson 13 minutes 49 seconds.
However, time is not the only factor in sheep shearing and when all aspects such as second cuts which devalues the wool clip and wool ridges remaining on the sheep plus shearing technique and sheep safety were taken into account then Jack Robinson from Claudy was the outright winner – taking the shearing championship for the fifth time in succession.
The average time taken to shear a sheep in the competition was 1 minute 12 seconds which highlights the skills that were on show for the packed audience at the event.
The top three winners will represent Northern Ireland at the Six Nations Shearing championships in France in August. The team will include second placed Ian Montgomery from Glenwherry and third placed Graeme Davidson from Larne.
Fourth place at the Zoetis/RUAS National Shearing Championships was taken by Tom Perry, Strabane with Robert Davidson, Larne in fifth place and Stephen Morgan, Newry in sixth place.
Jack Robinson’s win was certainly well deserved as in earlier years he would have spent a lot of time shearing in New Zealand prior to the Balmoral competition but he is now farming at home so his only practice was some shearing during the winter months. However he did admit to seeking some tips from brothers Roly and Matt Smith, both world champion shearers when they participated in a workshop organised by the Ulster Wool Board some weeks before the Balmoral event. Jack supplied the venue and sheep for this event. He did agree that it is difficult to keep up the momentum when you are not travelling and shearing commercially.
Raymond Irvine, from sponsors, Zoetis, congratulated all of the shearers in the final and presented them with their awards. He said that Zoetis was delighted to sponsor such a high profile event which has become so popular that it is a case of “standing room only” at the final.
He pointed out that it is appropriate for a company which promotes sheep health to be associated with the skills and enthusiasm of this event. He referred to the success of CYDECTIN® and STARTECT® Dual Active, pointing out that CYDECTIN 20mg/ml (2%) LA injection for Sheep is a potent worm and scab treatment, while STARTECT is the only licensed product that can provide the benefits of a dual active wormer giving enhanced efficacy against worms resistant to other wormer groups.
Another interesting project which Zoetis is continuing for a third year is the Parasite Watch Scheme. This involves the monitoring of 18 farms across the UK for worm, fluke and fly levels by taking faecal samples every two weeks and monitoring fly traps. This scheme not only warns the farmer involved of possible parasite risks but also alerts farmer in their local area by an interactive map at www.parasitewatch.co.uk. The results and stories from these farms will also be shared on Facebook SheepFarmersUK and Twitter @Sheep_Farmers.