Two American shearers set precedent for marathon endurance sheep shearing in the United States on July 11-12 at Estacado Industries Inc. in Dimmitt, Texas. Attempting the feat of shearing for 24 hours straight was Doug Rathke (48) of Minnesota who sheared a total of 607 sheep and Gavin McKerrow (60) of Wisconsin who sheared 487 sheep.
To put these benchmark numbers into perspective, Rathke sheared 25.29 sheep every hour (2:23 minutes per sheep) and McKerrow sheared 20.26 sheep per hour (2:58 minutes per sheep). The shearers were allowed breaks, but the duration of each rest was added to the end of the time period to ensure each shearer sheared for a full 24 hours. As the sheep passed through the hands of the shearer, their physical stamina and mental preparedness wore; however, each animal that came out of the chute was as fresh and lively as the first one sheared.
The two shearers participated in this endeavor to bring positive attention to shearing in the United States and to build an interest in sheep shearing as a means of employment.
"It is troubling to me that I am continuously hearing about shearing records being broken in other countries, and nothing is being attempted here. We hope to get the ball rolling with U.S. shearers to see what kinds of records they can break and get more young people interested in the profession," said Rathke on the reason for organizing the event.
Twenty volunteers from around the country were on hand to bring up the sheep, record times and monitor sheep and wool handling. A nurse monitored the well being of the shearers' health while an extension agent ensured that the sheep were properly handled.
Sponsors of the event included Estacado; Glen Fisher, American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) president; Lister/Wahl Corp.; Mid-States Wool Growers; Groenewold Fur and Wool Co.; Perfect Water; and ASI.
Both shearers are participants in ASI's Certified Sheep Shearer Program, which pledges commitment to shearing in a manner that promotes wool quality and good animal husbandry in the United States.