Level 3 Agriculture Students at Kingston Maurward College have been treated to two days of professional sheep shearing training by the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB). This training is essential for the aspiring farmers for both their own sheep and indeed shearing professionally in the UK and abroad.
In the UK the BWMB issues Blue, Bronze, Silver and Gold Seal certificates. Shearers at Blue Seal level are required to be able to shear sheep at an acceptable commercial speed. Shearers at Bronze Seal standard are able to shear sheep properly and unsupervised. At Silver Seal standard workers are able to shear more sheep in a given time, and workers who hold a Gold Seal are classed as top professional Sheep Shearers. Whilst shearers in Australia and New Zealand have their own standards, the UK’s Seal awards are internationally recognised, making UK shearers much sought after.
Over the two day course fourteen students sheared Kingston Maurward’s flock of 250 sheep with the aim of working towards achieving their Blue Seal – shearing three sheep in half an hour to the industry standard pattern. One student – George Grossey – has already achieved his Silver Seal enabling him to shear nine sheep in half an hour – an accolade which would allow him to shear abroad should he wish.
Many shearers follow the shearing season around the world culminating in New Zealand or Australia, with top shearers shearing up to 270 sheep per day!
Assessors – shearing veterans Richard Pullin and Andy Barratt from the BWMB – were impressed by the students’ progress during the course, Richard said: “These students are the keenest we’ve had yet – they’ve worked really hard and really want to achieve. This kind of training is physically heavy going – it makes the students appreciate how much hard work shearing is – but the more you shear the easier it gets.”
Student Shaunna Knight said: “It’s really hard work, but I’m determined to get my Blue Seal after this training!”