Hartpury students hone sheep shearing skills

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A group of budding farmers learned the secrets of successful sheep shearing at Hartpury’s Okle Clifford Farm.

Agriculture students at the college have had the opportunity to gain their Blue Seal award – an internationally recognised qualification that will allow them to shear sheep at home and abroad.

The day-long course, run by the British Wool Marketing Board, sees the students hone their skills to ensure fast, effective and safe shearing as well as making sure they harvest as much wool as possible. In order to achieve their blue level, they need to shear three sheep in half an hour.

Having been taught the Bowen method of sheep shearing, which makes the process as comfortable as possible for both sheep and shearer, the students were given the chance to show their new-found skills to course leader Andy Barratt.

Agriculture student, Oliver Lightfoot, 17, from Hartpury, said: “It’s really good we have been able to get this qualification as part of our course at Hartpury. We have sheep on our farm at home so to learn these new skills is great as I can put them into practice there.

“Once I’ve finished at Hartpury, I want to travel. I am hoping to spend 12 months shearing in New Zealand, so getting this qualification is the start to making that a reality. I love that this course is so practical and I’m getting valuable skills that will help me in my future career while I study.”

As well as learning the practical skill of shearing, students found out more about shearing equipment, wool care and working with sheep. Once they achieve their Blue Seal, only bronze and silver stand in between the students and a gold award – which would see them safely shearing at an astonishing rate of 14 sheep every 30 minutes.

People compete in sheep shearing around the world and the very best can challenge for the golden shears at the biennial World Championships!

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