St Mark's College students learn sheep shearing

Year 10 and 11 agriculture students at St Mark's College have put their sheep shearing and wool handling skills to work this week at McNally Farm.

The group have been learning the basics of shearing and wool handling, which continues on from the crutching course they participated in earlier this year.

Previously ran by TAFE, this year the course has been offered to the students through the same trainers at a not-for-profit training organisation Shearer Woolhandler Training Inc.

Agricultural manager Joel Head said the students will be learning all aspects of shearing and wool handling from peak industry bodies.

"The initial part is preparing the handpiece and downtube, grinding of combs and cutters, wool handling, animal welfare and handling practices and also a work health and safety unit," he said.

"The trainers are recognised Australia wide and world-wide because Australia has got some of the highest standards and practices in training, so they are learning first hand the latest industry skills, technology and new innovations with virtual reality.

"They are learning best practice and there is a huge shortage of people in the industry, especially with COVID-19."

Year 11 student Mackenzie Williams said while he has had some practice shearing sheep on the family farm in Burra, it was still a hard task.

"We have learned how to grind and set up the hand piece all ready to start shearing," he said.

"So they don't get fly blown and it helps teach us the right way to get the fleece off so it's ready to put in the wool bale.

"You have to stretch before you do it. It is a bit hard.

"It's good fun just to do it in here and then when you get home you can do it and show them off."

Mr Head would like to thank Andrew and Donna Longmire, of Redhill, for their support and providing 260 cross-bread lambs for students to shear.

"Every year we have to find enough sheep to keep the students busy," he said.

"The local farming community who support is has been excellent, because they want to see students continue in the industry.

"Without them we wouldn't be able to run the course."

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