From the ABC:
Wool world record: 42kg fleece shorn off overgrown sheep in Canberra, RSPCA says
UpdatedPHOTO: Champion shearer Ian Elkin posing with the 42 kilogram fleece taken from a wild sheep found near Canberra.(ABC News: Greg Nelson)
Wool shorn off an overgrown sheep found near Canberra yesterday has set a world record for the heaviest fleece removed in one shearing, the RSPCA says.
The sheep, found yesterday, underwent a risky shearing operation to remove 42.3 kilograms of wool.
It smashed the previous world record held by a sheep in New Zealand called Shrek, whose fleece weighed 27 kilograms.
This morning, a national shearing champion took on the challenge to clip the sheep, which wasrescued by RSPCA staff after being reported by a member of the public.
It was so woolly its life was at risk, as sheep can develop serious medical conditions if they are not regularly shorn.
Vets were worried the animal could go into shock during the shearing, so it was sedated during the process.
The RSPCA estimates the sheep, which could barely walk due to the mass of wool, had not been shorn in more than five years.
It took four-time Australian Shearing Championship winner Ian Elkins and four helpers 42 minutes to shear the sheep.
An average fleece that has not been shorn for 12 months weighs about 5 kilograms and takes three minutes to shear.
Mr Elkin said it was a difficult job.
“It was a challenge but the sheep was calm and the vets gave it a mild sedation before we started the shear,” he said.
“We started on the belly, just laid it on its back, kept it comfortable.
“There were parts of the sheep where we had to cut it in different layers because the problem for me shearing it was the weight of the fleece was pulling on the skin and we wanted to keep the skin cuts to a minimum.”
Sheep to be put up for adoption: RSPCA
With 35 years in the sheep shearing business, Mr Elkin said he had never seen anything like it.
“I’ve shorn a few sheep with two years’ worth of fleece unshorn, they would cut 10 or 12 kilos,” he said.
“Sheep are shorn every 12 months and an average weight would be 5 kilograms. For this to cut over 40 kilograms and smash the world record, Shrek the New Zealand sheep, he cut 27 kilograms, it’s unbelievable.”
One runaway Tasmanian sheep, known as Shaun, lived in the wild for six years and was found with fleece that weighed more than 20 kilograms.
Mr Elkin believes the fleece will not be sold.
“Because of the length of it, it’s 42 centimetres long. It will have no commercial value but it will be interesting to see what the RSPCA do with it, whether they put it in a museum or something like that,” he said.
RSPCA spokeswoman Jane Gregor said the animal was being checked by vets.
“Obviously it was a bit hard to check yesterday,” she said.
“Once everything’s fine we’ll put him up for adoption.”