Ed Gingell and his shearing team (Alex and Freedom) recently came to the farm and sheared all 220 of our Suffolk and Mule ewes (with the exception of one escapee that managed to jumped out of our pen). I have since found out that Ed recently won the Senior English shearing circuit (the formula 1 of shearing) and he kindly agreed to answer a few questions on how he got into shearing and some top tips for aspiring shearers out there..
1. When did you shear your first sheep?
I started shearing 10 years ago with a guy called Paul Griffiths. He sheared my dads (sheep) and I started off by winding the wool for him. He taught me the basics and I just loved it, so I started working hard at it and learning as much as possible. Going to the shearing comps at the start inspired me to be like the guys who were right at the top and wanted to shear like them.
2. What’s the fastest time you’ve shorn a sheep in?
It’s hard to say what’s my fastest time, my best tally in one day was 528.
3. If you had to shear a sheep with hand clippers how long would it take you?
I’ve never sheared a sheep with blades but it would take around 5 min I would of thought. The guys that do it all the time could do it in 2 mins easily.
4. Are there any particular breeds of sheep you prefer shearing or are they all the same?
I would say my favourite sheep to shear would be a mule because their wool is very open and they are very quick to shear. You can’t beat shearing romneys though as it’s very satisfying to see the end product as there is more work in them.
5. On average how many sheep do you shear in a season? How does that compare to New Zealand sheep shearers?
I shear about 22,000 throughout the summer, I shear from May through to early October. If someone was to shear a whole year and follow the sun they should shear around 50,000 I would of thought. It depends on the type of shearer and sheep being shorn.
6. Do you have any tips for aspiring sheep shearing champions out there? And what sort of prize money can you win when you get to your level?
Anyone who wants to start shearing should knuckle down, stay grounded and listen to other shearers. Going to competitions I always think is a great thing to do because you can really see how it’s done by the top guys. Prize money can be up to £700 but most shows are around £400 – £500. Hand pieces are often donated.
7. What’s next – is there a world championship shearing contest you can enter?
Now that I’ve won the senior English circuit I’m up competing with the Lewis Hamilton of shearers. I’m just gonna keep my head down arse up and try my hardest!
Check out our photo story: guide to sheep shearing here.
Read our story on UK sheep shearing by farmer and writer Michael Harding here.