At least one world record-holding shearer, Mr Jon Roberts from Robertsacre Farm, Dartmoor, is among those who are gearing up to compete in shearing competitions at this year’s Royal Bath & West Show.
The event is a long-established favourite on the competitive shearing circuit and this year is no exception as it will play host to an abundance of professional shearing talent across the classes.
Roberts has recently returned from shearing on the Falkland Islands across several farms with numbers in excess of 50,000 sheep, holds the two-stand, eight-hour strong wool ewe world record, along with shearing partner Martin Howlett.
The pair sheared a massive 1,075 ewes, beating the old record of 1,069.
So, what led Mr Roberts to take on the challenge?
“I was inspired to take on a record after seeing Matt Smith smash the nine-hour strong wool world record in 2016,” explains Mr Roberts.
“It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I wanted to see how far I could push my body and my mind.”
“And I am a better shearer for it. My pattern and style have definitely improved as a result.”
Mr Roberts shears around 20,000 sheep a year for UK clients, and alongside his wife, Sophie and two young children, Isla and Sky, operates a regenerative farming enterprise on Dartmoor.
Sheep and suckler enterprise
The family run a flock of Perendale ewes and a small suckler herd on a rotational grazing system.
The farm is developing a crossbred Merino ewe to enhance wool quality and add value to the product, while lambs and cattle fattened for meat are sold locally in meat boxes with “provenance and quality at the heart of the brand”.
“As a business, we are interested in delivering high quality product, both in terms of wool and meat, that adds margin and is sold locally to customers with whom we can develop a relationship.”
“We like to know where our produce is going, and the people it is going to. That is important to us.”
Mr Roberts is looking forward to “a great couple of days of competition” at the show.
“I have been competing at the Royal Bath & West Show since 2008, and I love going out there trying to beat everyone,” he says.
Competitive shearing takes place on June 2nd and 3rd, with classes from juniors to blade novice, to the prestigious Open and the English National.
Cash prizes of up to £275 are on offer for placed competitors, and there is still time to get involved as entries close on May 23rd, 2023, at 12 pm.
“While we are all trying to beat each other, once the handpiece is put down, we are mates, and I find it important mentally to spend social time with other shearers who are doing the hard graft of day-to-day shearing – it is a community,” he concluded.
The Royal Bath & West Show takes place on June 1st to June 3rd, 2023 at The Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4 6QN.