Women's Shearing Record Claimed In Australia

Published: Tue 7 May 2024 07:27 AM
Jeanine Kimm, with "second" Mark Constance at her side in the historic shearing record in New South Wales on Saturday. Kimm established a women's record of 858 merino ewes in eight hours, the first official women's record on the finewool breed and the first by a female Australian shearer on any breed. Photo / Supplied
If there were any remaining semblances of Australia’s historic reluctance to have women in the woolshed unless delivering the tucker they were broken down in just eight hours as diminutive Jeanine Kimm established a ground-breaking World record of 358 merino ewes on Saturday.
The 31-year-old first woman to shear an official record on the predominant finewooled Australian breed, and the first Australian female to do a record on any breed, said that while she had not experienced the type of exile now long-gone in the industry, she said she was aware of what had gone-on in the past.
“Personally I haven’t received anything but support and encouragement from my male counterparts,” she said. “I completely recognise and understand the sometimes very negative experience other women have had, especially historically, but personally it is not something I am able to speak on from my own experience, having only a few minor instances of push back in the 11 years I’ve been full-time shearing.”
“Growing up in a family where you were never told you couldn’t do something based on your gender and seeing my Aunty Margaret Johnson and my mother both shear as respected role models it never really has been a thought to me that it is anything out of the ordinary, that I being a woman shearing is anything that different.”
“I have been treated on who I am as a person and not necessarily treated on what people expected me to be based on their own stereotypes,” she said.
“I am very grateful for women, such as my Auntie, who very much would have unfortunately encountered the negative brunt of being the first to break the mould of stereotypes for women like myself to succeed now,” she said. “I recognise I am in such a privileged position based on the foundation of them breaking the norm.”
It was thus that without an existing record to target one goal was to get to 351, the tally shorn by Hilton Barrett in establishing the World Sheep Shearing Records Society’s first men’s eight-hours merino ewes record in 1999. He later raised it to 411 and it now stands at the 500 shorn by Australia-based Luke Vernon, from Central Otago, in West Australia on April 12.
Continuing a trend established in recent months when all four women’s solo records on strongwool sheep were broken in the New Zealand summer, the 1.57m-tall Kimm showed remarkable control of the average 60kg-65kg sheep in shearing more than 1.2 tonnes of finewool at Dalkeith', near Cassilis, beside the Munmurra River, about 230km inland from Newcastle, and about 150km north of Hill End, where she grew up.
Among those present was New Zealand shearer Sacha Bond, who in the New Zealand summer set women’s nine-hours strongwool records of 720 lambs in December and 458 on ewes in February.
With the green-light for the attempt to go ahead given by judges Robert McLaren, of Mid-Canterbury, and Australian judges David Brooker, Dave Grant and Ralph Blue after a 10-sheep sample shear wool-weigh on Friday produced 37.42kg of wool – comfortably over the minimum requirement of 3.4kg per sheep – she was going even stronger at the end than at the start.
The conditions weren’t the best, with some rain outside and the temperature struggling to get over 14-15deg, but with a large team of supporters working in an event in the making for up to a year, she shore two-hour runs of 90 and 86 from the start at 7.30am to the lunch break at midday, and 91 in each of the two-hour runs from 1pm to knock-off at 5.30pm.
It would have been 360 had two sheep not been rejected by the judges in the second run, and more if the weather had been more favourable.
McLaren said Kimm had shorn well after the two rejections and ended with a quality rating of 17.4, inside the threshold of 18, encouraged particularly by “second” Mark Constance monitoring the pace by the clock at her side throughout.
Other key figures included Dalkeith farmers Damon and Sophie Sostor, Goulburn contractor and sponsor Tim Redman, and sheep providers Troy and Sarah Rose, of ‘Rotherwood’, whom she honoured by shearing the remaining sheep from the target mob on Sunday.
First handed a handpiece by father Noel, she’s spent the “vast majority” of her shearing career based in Bombala, in southern NSW, and her only shearing in New Zealand was a few days for Central Otago contractor and New Zealand merino shearing legend Dion Morrell earlier this year.
Asked about the future, and whether she had caught the shearing records “bug,” she said: “For the moment, I’m going to enjoy the moment of this one but it’s very encouraging with the outstanding support and enthusiasm I have received from my team, and their enthusiasm for another one.”
There are currently two other record attempts registered with the records society, both in England in the first week of August.

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