AN ELAN Valley sheep farmer is part of a duo of Welsh blade shearers who have set a new record for hand shearing a total of 397 sheep in nine hours

Clive Hamer farms at Hirnant, near Rhayader and shears sheep commercially both in the UK and in New Zealand, as well as regularly taking part in shearing competitions.

Together with Gareth Pennant Owen, a sheep farmer from near Caernarfon in the Snowdonia National Park, they became UK champions for the ‘Nine Hour Two Stand Blade Shearing on Lambs’ last weekend.

Starting at 5am on Saturday, September 30, at Fernhill Farm, in Compton Martin, Somerset, the two men sheared a total of 397 sheep which was an average of 44 sheep per hour.

Describing this record-making event, Clive said: “This was a big challenge and I am delighted to have sheared alongside Gareth to set the record.

“We were both aware that, unless standards such as these are set, there is nothing for others to aspire to. I am sure that in the not too distant future, we will see other shearers taking up this challenge.”

As part of this attempt, Gareth also gained the solo blade title, shearing himself a total of 202 sheep.

Using 7.25 inch blades they set these records in a gruelling nine hour session, shearing Romney cross Shetland lambs, courtesy of Andrew Wear. As there were no previous UK records, the two have established British firsts.

Both men are Welsh wool producers, top UK blade shearers, and Clive is also a British Isles Shearing Competitions Association (BISCA) judge.

The competition was supported by British Wool, which run both blade and machine shearing courses as part of its annual training programme.

Gareth has competed for Wales and sheared around the world. He has just returned from New Zealand, where he competed against fierce competition in the World Championship Blade Shearing Finals.

Gareth said of last weekend’s achievements: “This was the first UK attempt, and we are delighted to have now set British records and benchmarks, which open up the path for others to try to follow.”

In recent years British Wool have seen a revival in popularity of blade shearing, and they annually run numerous blade shearing courses.

In addition to the young shearers wanting to learn this skill, many of those attending these courses are small holders who want to have the ability to shear their own flock as opposed to bringing in contract shearers.

The overall aim of this attempt was to set both a record, for double stand and solo, and to set a British sheep shearing standard. When asked why setting the benchmark was important Colin MacGregor, British Wool’s head of shearing, said: “Shearing is integral to the harvesting of wool and as such we must ensure that we maintain skills across a range of techniques.

“In the last few years there has been a resurgence in both competitive shearing and record attempts, both of which have helped to raise the profile of sheep shearing. As a result we now have a very healthy group of young people across the UK who want to develop their all-round shearing skills and this includes blade shearing.

“On behalf of British Wool congratulations to both Gareth and Clive for their achievements today and for setting the first ever blade shearing standards.”