Kiwi brothers set for nine-hour Merino shearing record bid

Doug Laing, Shearing Sports New Zealand, April 21, 2023

Taumarunui brothers and shearers Floyde (left) and Levi Neil in the Rockliffe wool shed south of Kojonup on Friday, ahead of the Saturday 5am start of their world Merino ewes record bid. Photo – Supplied.

A NEW Zealand shearer, who with his brother is tackling a world record on some of the globe’s toughest tally sheep, says conditions are ideal for the challenge in southern Western Australia tomorrow (22 April).

Floyde Neil, 30, and his brother Levi, 28, from Taumarunui in New Zealand, but based in Boyup Brook, WA, are out to establish a two-stand Merino ewes record for nine hours.

But they also have their sights on the solo record of 530 set by New Zealand shearer Stacey Te Huia near Dubbo, New South Wales, eight years ago.

It will be the first attempt on a two-stand record for Merino ewes for nine hours. There is a record of 924 for eight hours (four runs of two hours each) shorn in 2003 by brothers Cartwright and Michael Terry, also from New Zealand, but based in Australia.

Saturday’s attempt will take place at ‘Rockliffe’, near Kojonup and about 280km south-east of Perth, starting at 5am and ending at 5pm. There will be one run of two hours to the one-hour breakfast break followed by four runs of 1hr 45min each, separated by breaks of 30 minutes for morning and afternoon smoko and an hour for lunch.

Much of this week has been spent preparing the sheep and the wool shed, and practicing on the sheep rejected from the larger flock the record-bid sheep were selected from.

A wool weigh-in before convening official Alistair Emslie, from New Zealand, and World Sheep Shearing Records Society Australian judges Ralph Blue, Grant Borchardt and Mark Buscumb is taking place this afternoon, with a sample of the sheep expected to satisfy the required average of at least 3.4kg of wool each.

The forecast for the area on Saturday is for fine weather and a maximum temperature of 26 degrees Celsius at Kojonup, about 20-30km from the venue.

Heading to the site today, Floyde Neil said the weather is about as perfect as it could be for this time of the year.

“If everything goes well and to plan it’s looking very doable I think.”

The son of Roger Neil, who in 2007 helped set a four-stand strong wool lambs record for nine hours, Floyde Neil had his name in the records books after a solo crossbred lambs record of 527 shorn on November 13 last year. This was held just 10 weeks before being regained in January by Aidan Copp, another New Zealander based in Australia, with a new mark of 605.

Tomorrow’s attempt is the 12th world sheep shearing record bid in the World Sheep Shearing Record Society’s 2022-2023 year and the first for Levi Neil.

To break the solo record, one of the shearers will need to average less than 61.02 seconds a sheep, or at least 59 an hour, caught, shorn and dispatched.

When shearing his record in February 2015, Te Huia increased the pace during the day, starting with 113 before breakfast (56.5 per hour), followed by 95-minutes runs of 103, 105, 104 and 105.

There will be a significant team of helpers from near and far, including fellow New Zealand world shearing-record breakers Koen Black on Floyde Neil’s catching pen ‘door’, Digger Balme on time and Jack Fagan on drinks and West Australia representative Jess Harding as his wool handler.

Levi Neil will have Cartwright Terry on his door, and time will be monitored by Australia-based Hawke’s Bay shearer Lou Brown, who shore the eight-hour Merino ewes record of 497 at “Rockliffe” four years ago. Kyle Gilmore is on drinks and Lily Reriti is Levi’s wool handle.

The Merino (finewool) record of 530 compares with the nine-hour ewe record on strong wool sheep more common to New Zealand and the United Kingdom of 731 set by New Zealand shearer and Cornwall farmer Matt Smith in England in July 2016.


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