NZ woman shows her shear class and sets record

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Megan Whitehead on her way to setting a new world shearing record. 661 lambs in 9hrs. CREDIT Edwin Mabonga
Camera IconMegan Whitehead on her way to setting a new world shearing record. 661 lambs in 9hrs. CREDIT Edwin Mabonga Credit: supplied

A New Zealand shearer has smashed the women’s world record for the number of lambs shorn in nine hours, notching up 661 and inspiring female shearers worldwide.

Megan Whitehead, from Glenham in Southland on New Zealand’s South Island, has turned heads since her achievement in a Gore shearing shed on January 14.

She smashed the world record set by Waikato’s Emily Welch in November 2007, surpassing the record of 648 just before the 5pm finish line.

The 24-year-old shore one lamb in less than 50 seconds on average as she completed five runs in the shearing shed at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island, 63km north east of Invercargill.

Megan Whitehead on her way to setting a new world shearing record. 661 lambs in 9hrs. CREDIT Edwin Mabonga
Camera IconMegan Whitehead on her way to setting a new world shearing record. 661 lambs in 9hrs. CREDIT Edwin Mabonga Credit: supplied

Whitehead shore 153 in the first two hours to morning tea, and successive 132, 126, 125 and 125 lambs in the one-hour 45-minute runs afterwards.

A shearing shed full of supporters turned out to watch the start at 5am and finish at 5pm.

As she closed in on 5pm, the crowd cheered and applauded when she hit the goal with 10 minutes to knock-off, and then chanted her name and gave her a standing ovation as the last shorn lamb was pushed down the chute.

New Zealand media reported Whitehead gave her father, Quinton, a big hug after putting down the handpiece.

Megan Whitehead on her way to setting a new world shearing record. 661 lambs in 9hrs. CREDIT Edwin Mabonga
Camera IconMegan Whitehead on her way to setting a new world shearing record. 661 lambs in 9hrs. CREDIT Edwin Mabonga Credit: supplied

One of her supporters on the day was former record holder Jill Burney, who set the original record of 541 lambs in January 1989 and later set a further record shearing 614.

Also in attendance was Southland shearing great Nathan Stratford.

Weighing just 60km, Whitehead shore lambs weighing 34kg to 36kg — averaging 47 seconds a sheep, but dropped back to about 48.5 seconds before lunch.

She was reportedly plagued with cramps in the first stand of the morning, had problems with her gear around lunchtime but was up about 20 at the afternoon tea break.

The accolade was Whitehead’s second record after securing the four stand women’s record in January last year, notching up 608.

Judges included gave the green light for the event to go ahead after a sample shear of 20 lambs produced 21kg of wool, comfortably above the required minimum of 0.9kg per lamb.

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