SA hand wool shearers beat the world

Two South African hand-shearers have achieved high honours in the international sheep shearing championship in Ireland, the National Wool Growers' Association said on Monday.

Mayenzeke Shweni and Zweliwile Hans took the first two places in the hand-shearing event at the Golden Shears Wool Handling and Sheep Shearing Championships in Gorey, Ireland.

Shweni was crowned the new world champion and Hans - world champion before the event - was the runner-up.

Izak Klopper, manager of Shearer Training at the National Wool Growers' Association, said the biggest challenge South African shearers faced was the large overseas breed of sheep, produced for their meat as well as their wool.

Shweni sheared seven sheep in 17 minutes and 21.2 seconds and was the runner-up at the previous world championships in New Zealand two years ago.

Hans sheared his sheep in a faster time, in 16 minutes and 24.2 seconds, but made more mistakes and lost his title to Shweni.

The shearers were judged on time and technique.

Shweni and Hans also won the team blade-shearing event, while Hans was the winner in the National Irish open blade-shearing event, with Shweni as the runner up.

The South African machine shearers and wool handlers failed to make it to the finals.

"There is nothing wrong with the quality of our machine shearers' shearing," said Klopper.

He said their biggest drawback was shearing the strong wool of overseas breeds, which differed from local Merino sheep.

Shearers from 27 countries competed in the event. - Sapa