Blade-shearer Jordan has the winning edge

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JOHN.COSGROVE@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

A Balclutha shearer who only took up the blades last year has won the intermediate blade-shearing championship at the New Zealand Corriedale shearing and woolhandling championships.

Former South Otago High School pupil Jordan White headed off Wiremu Kai in the final by one point overall in a time of 11min 1.190sec to blade shear by hand two troublesome Corriedale ewes.

The championships were held at the Christchurch A&P show this month.

“They had quite a bit of dirt and muck in them,” Mr White said.

“It made cutting the fleeces quite hard, so I wasn’t happy about their condition.

“Wiremu is much more experienced than me so the pressure was on to get the win.”

Despite a long-held passion for shearing, Mr White (25) started out originally as a builder and only recently began shearing while working as a wool presser in 2018.

“Two thousand and nineteen was my first real season on the stand, despite wanting to be a shearer as a kid. I had started out as a builder, but when I watched a speed shearing display in Kai last year I decided to go and do a machine shearing course,” he said.

“I’m grateful that Hill Shearing Services gave me a start and then I looked at blade shearing because the main work had died down because of winter.”

The physicality of blade shearing took its toll on Mr White’s hands and arms at the start of his first full season shearing the old way.

“It was hard, physically tough on the body and mentally hard because you are always watching, concentrating on not cutting your hands. You have to be totally focused on what you are doing and then there is the time away from home, three to four weeks at a time way up in the high country.

“My hands were really sore for the first couple of weeks but as I got fitter the pain went down.”

He said blunt shears made it 10 times harder to cut the wool but the blade shearing season was mainly in the winter months for pre-lambing and the merino wool was easier to cut then.

“You leave a bit more on the ewes with blade shearing, making it easier for the farmer to get the stock back out into the paddocks after shearing.

The machine shear’s comb takes away the protective lanolin coating from the fleeces so by blade shearing we leave an extra layer on the ewes and help to protect them from the rain and cold.”

Blade shearing is harder, slower and less frenetic than machine shearing, the sheds are very quiet and the pace is much slower.

Mr Wilson said he had learned a lot in his first season on the stand and his best tally this year was 140 cross-breed ewes in one eight-hour shift.

It was exhausting work. I just focused on the work.”