South African blade-shearers made a clean sweep at the 13th Golden Shears World Shearing and Wool Handling Championships held in Norway recently. I n the individual blade-shearing category, Zweliwile Hans, a previous world champion, was placed first when he finished 10 lambs in 21 minutes and 20 seconds.
Sokisele Doba from Lesotho came second and Piet Sekete from third, with Siyongozi Nkomoyi fourth. For Hans, shearing is more than just a physical job. He believes an intimate connection exists between shearer and sheep and one has to respect the animals to gain their cooperation. “Sheep are not as stupid as they look,” said Hans, the man who shears them faster than anyone else. “They can read people’s minds and sense if someone is violent even before he touches them.”
Twenty eight countries participated in the championships. According to Elize Pretorius, National Wool Growers Association spokesperson, South Africa and Lesotho also took first and second place in the team blade-shearing category. “This event is not just about speed, but also technique,” explained event spokesperson Elin Ravndal Bell. “Shearers who cut their animals lose points.”
Hans did South Africa proud taking top honours above New Zealand and Australia. “When started shearing, my wife, Nolulamile, was not impressed,” says aged 46. “She kept on pushing me to go to work on the mines in Jo’burg.”
The sheep breeds in Norway are totally different from the South African sheep, which makes the event even more challenging. The sheep have stronger wool and smoother, slicker skins. Shearers are trained by the National Wool Growers Association. In the wool-handling competition South Africa came eighth with Johannes de Jager of the Grootfontein Agricultural Institute representing South Africa. – Staff reporter