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Beyond the Bale : March 2018
AWI funds hands-on practical in-shed training for shearers, aimed at increasing their skills, productivity and professionalism. An emphasis on teaching good technique, rather than relying on strength, is helping attract and retain younger shearers and female shearers in the industry. Kevin Gellatly attended his first shearer training course at the age of 17 with Burt Dwyer in 1965 at Perenjori in the northern agricultural region of WA – and he’s been shearing ever since. His exceptional contribution to the industry was officially recognised in 2015 when he was inducted into the Australian Shearers’ Hall of Fame. He has been passing on his vast experience and the tricks of the trade as a trainer for more than 20 years. During this period Kevin has whittled down the most important qualities needed by young aspiring shearers to two simple traits: “a good work ethic and ears that work”. At the Rylington Park Institute of Agriculture near Boyup Brook in the Great Southern region of WA, Kevin and his partner Amanda Davis, with the support of AWI, run shearer and wool handling training courses throughout the year. These courses are for students of all levels, from complete novices through to professional shearers looking to fine tune their skills. Kevin said that while shearing is a hard job and you need to be physically fit, it’s not youth and strength that will make a shearing career successful, it is longevity and keeping injury-free that is key to success. “This comes from actually learning a skill and doing it properly, so you’re not putting any weight on your back but putting more of the weight onto the sheep and footwork,” he said. “Techniques like knowing how to cradle the sheep with your feet and maneuvering them around so they are comfortable is very important for the animal’s welfare. If the sheep is comfortable then obviously the sheep will be calm, and the flow on effect is that you’ll be able to shear the sheep efficiently." Kevin teaches the trainees how to break down shearing into “achievable outcomes”. The first section to focus on is shearing one leg and removing the wool. He then gets the student to put the sheep back in the pen and gets the wool handlers to pick up the wool and learn how to skirt it and judge its characteristics. When the students are confident, Kevin then goes through each section of the sheep and then marries them all up. At the shearing school at Rylington Park in January 2018 complete novices were shearing 4-5 sheep a run by the end of the day using this learning plan. AWI shearer trainer Kevin Gellatly with four young students – Stephanie Rose, Ethan Gellatly, Shelby Atherton and Kane Johnston – at a shearing school at the WA College of Agriculture at Harvey. PHOTO: Nic Ellis, The West Australian Kevin Gellatly training at Denmark Agricultural College, WA. 60 ON FARM
In the Shops - March 2018