Stock Handling & Animal Welfare

Shearer Sam joins slew of first-timers in Victoria’s shearing and woolhandling team

Terry Sim, July 22, 2016
Sam Mackrill pushes the wool before his handpiece at Bendigo.

Sam Mackrill pushes the wool before his handpiece at Bendigo.

NANNEELLA shearer Sam Mackrill has been shearing a lot of sheep lately and last weekend at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show it paid off.

At the Northern Shears event at the Bendigo showgrounds Sam sweated and pushed his way into a place on the Victorian state team for the first time. At 20 years of age he is possibly the youngest shearer to do so.

Sam made it to the final eight shearers at the Victorian semi-final last year in his first attempt at the state championships last Sunday.

“It felt pretty good; standing next to the calibre of shearers that were there was pretty cool.

“The whole line-up are really good shearers,” he said after last Sunday’s open state shearing final.

Sam has been shearing full-time for five years and shore his first 100 sheep in a day when he was 14 years old shearing beside his father Chris Mackrill in a Boort shed.

“My dad taught me how to shear and I shore my first sheep when I was eight.

“I just loved it and wanted to do it more and more,” he said.

“I went straight out of school and into shearing full-time; I could already shear by the time I left school.”

Sam is the latest in generations of shearers on both sides of his family and the handpiece has taken him from Nanneella near Rochester in northern Victoria to interstate sheds, New Zealand and England.

Sam said he had “practiced hard in the sheds” over the past 12 months, shearing 200-250 on most days depending on the sheep and up to 320 in adult sheep and 402 in lambs.

“You put the work in and strive to be better each time and see how far you can go.”

Chris Mackrill said he was “over the moon” with Sam’s state selection.

“I couldn’t be any prouder – he has put a lot of work in, just dedication; its’ something he wanted to do all his life, to shear sheep.”

Mr Mackrill said his son was very competitive and used his job as his main training tool, only shearing the numbers the sheep will allow him to do while maintaining his quality.

“What you do at work is what you will do under pressure in a show.”

Sam said he fine-tuned the preparation of his gear to get the smoothest comb and best cut, to try to give him an edge over competitors in his state championship push. In the final, with Scottish shearer Grant Lundie as his second in the pen, Sam lost the least quality points of the four finalists and was only beaten on time by former Australian champion Jason Wingfield.

Sale shearer Dan Mraz, 28, was third in the open shearing final, meaning he will compete in the national titles for his third time, alongside Mackrill and Wingfield, at Warialda, NSW, on October 6-8. Kangaroo Flat shearer Rhett Parry, 26, just missed out on state selection by placing fourth, but he said it was his best performance to date.

Young shearers and wool handlers are coming through the ranks

Victorian open final winner Jason Wingfield, 41, said he has only missed three years since 1997 representing Victoria at the national titles, has been Australian open champion twice and represented Australia in Wales, Norway and Ireland. His main aim in the state final was to get through to the top three.

“I still shear full time, so that helps in the challenge of keeping up with the younger guys; it comes down to fitness and knowing how fast you can push them out.”

The four state open shearing finalists also fought out the Northern Shears Open final last Saturday, with Jason Wingfield also winning ahead of Sam Mackrill, Dan Mraz and Rhett Parry.

Sports Shear Victoria president Tom Kelly said the young shearers were coming through the ranks quicker, which was testament to the training programs being run in the industry.

State senior woolhandling winner at Bendigo Ali Davies with her dog Wybimbie Bess.

State senior woolhandling winner at Bendigo Ali Davies with her dog Wybimbie Bess.

Several other shearers and wool handlers will also represent Victoria for the first time at the nationals this year. These include intermediate shearing winner Lachlan Ward and second placegetter Bradley Keller, the winner of the senior shearing final Josh Bone and second placegetter Lee Seymour.

In the wool handling, Hamilton rouseabout Tara Stephens and Lisa Wardlaw from Woorndoo will compete in the national open event for the first time, alongside Bendigo winner Sophie Huf. Winner of the senior state wool handling final Ali Davies, and second placegetter Kirsty Bone, will compete at their first national titles. Ali also scored 63 in the novice yard dog trial at Bendigo, narrowly missing out on a final berth. The winner of the novice wool handling, Sharelle Dyson from St Helens, will compete at the national with another first timer, Shelby Fraser from Balmoral.

The top two intermediate and senior shearers, and the top two senior wool handlers, will go to Warialda sponsored by Australia Wool Innovation as part of a development squad.

Click here for the full state championship results.

Northern Shears results

Shearing: Learner – Maddy Mackrill, 1st. Intermediate – Stuart Gavin, 1; Jordan Vandenbroek, 2; Bradley Keller, 3; Kevin Gibbs, 4. Senior – Gerard Scobie, 1; Jake Sullivan, 2; Leigh Cowland, 3; Dylan Launer, 4.

Woolhandling: Novice – Sharelle Dyson, 1; Tiana Ward, 2; Rachael Kraemer, 3. Senior – Kirsty Bone, 1; Zack Currie, 2; Amy Rogers, 3. Open – Melanie Morris, 1; Mark Purcell, 2; Luke Rowbottom, 3.


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  1. Chris Mackrill, July 25, 2016

    Great all-round article, all competitors should be proud of themselves.

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