Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sheep shearers flock to world championship in France

Sheep shearers flock to world championship in France

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Wales’ Richard Jones shears his second sheep to win the World Champion title in the blade shearing category during the 18th edition of the World Sheep Shearing and Wool handling championships in Le Dorat, central-western France, on Sunday. GEORGES GOBET/afp

Sheep shearers flock to world championship in France

Sheep shearing experts flocked to a small town in the French countryside on Thursday for the opening of the annual world championship, a four-day event held for the first time on French soil.

More than 320 competitors from 34 countries as far apart as Norway, Japan and the Cook Islands, are battling it out to win titles in woolhandling, machine shearing and “blade” shearing, a traditional method using
scissors.

And the 5,000 sheep on site will no doubt appreciate a hair cut, with temperatures expected to peak at 34 degrees Celsius over the coming days in Le Dorat, a town in central France.

It is the first time the international competition sets foot – and hoof – on French soil, although the town, which is home to 1,800 people, has previously hosted the French sheep shearing championships in 2013 as well as the Six Nations tournament the same year.

Last year, it also welcomed a 24-hour sheep shearing marathon, with six shearers clipping around 2,500 sheep, producing six tonnes of fleece.

“The world championship, it’s so fantastic, so spectacular, we want to share it with the French people,” said Christophe Riffaud, president of the Association for the World Sheep Shearing Championship (AMTM) who has competed in Northern Ireland and the Netherlands.”

“I like the physical aspect of the job,” said Canadian Pauline Bolay, one of only two women among the 323 participants.

Endurance, speed, flexibility

Sheep are typically shorn at least once a year to avoid sickness caused by ticks, flies and other insects in their wool.

Endurance, speed and flexibility – particularly in the back – are considered key skills for this iconic rural activity, with professional shearers typically paid per animal.

Competitors in Sunday’s machine-shearing final will be tasked with shaving 20 lambs in under 16 minutes.

Quality is the most important aspect, making up around 60 per cent of the final grade.

Judges “check for marks, uncut fleece and uneven levels of shearing,” the AMTM said on its website.

New Zealand is the favourite to win the world title, after celebrating home-turf victories in the machine shearing and woolhandling categories in 2017. South Africa picked up first prize for blade shearing.

Apart from cherrypicking the best of the best, the event aims to educate the public about how wool goes from sheep to jumper.

“Ninety percent of French wool gets sent to China to be washed and processed,” Riffaud said. “There’s not much demand for French wool because of its structure, but we want to promote it as a quality natural product”.

The 7ha site is also displaying around 100 exhibits made from wool, including a wedding dress and jeans, in a bid to promote the fruits of the French countryside.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group