Renowned sheep shearer shares shaving successes

Alberta producers take home some advanced knowledge to better assist their operations

Instructor Mike Pora

Some Alberta wool producers, including some locals, got a chance to learn from one of the world’s best last week.

Mike Pora, who is the current North American Sheep Shearing Challenge champion as well as a shearer, wool handler and trainer in Australia, was at a farm near Bashaw on Wednesday, July 6 for a one-day clinic on advanced techniques for shearing sheep. The clinic drew about a dozen wool producers from around Alberta to the Jessica Chitwood farm located a short distance southwest of Bashaw.

Pora provided the clinic as part of his trip to Canada this summer, which will include him defending his sheep shearing title this week at the Calgary Stampede.

From Cowra, New South Wales located about 300 kilometres west of Sydney Pora works for Australia Wool Innovations (AWI), a non-profit company which provides investment into research, development and marketing for the country’s wool industry in hopes of increasing profitability and global market access.

His post provides Pora with numerous opportunities to develop and hone his shearing skills from among the best in the world, something he was more than happy to pass along to the Alberta producers that could attend the clinic.

“I came to spend a month in Canada visiting as well as defend my crown at the Calgary Stampede, when Shaun (Fajnor) asked me if I would be willing to instruct a clinic, which I was really happy to do,” Pora said.

“The clinic is about providing them with tips on how to improve their shearing techniques to make it easier on them and the animals along with being able to help them do it faster, which helps take the stress and physical strain off the shearer and the sheep.”

Fajnor, a producer from Taber who was at the clinic and became friends with Pora at last year’s challenge, instructs a beginner shearing course and was glad Pora accepted the invitation.

“We met through some competitions and with him being a trainer in Australia, it thought it would be a great help to our group in Alberta to be able to learn more,” he said, explaining the clinic came together quickly through the small number of shearers that’s been organized through a Facebook group.

“The techniques we are learning make it easier to get more quality wool from the sheep while being easier on the animals. We are always looking at the welfare of our animals as its our livelihood and to be able to take advantage of Mike’s cutting edge techniques is especially great for us.”

One of the big keys to making shearing more efficient extracting the most wool possible while doing it in the least amount of time with the lowest effort involves the correct handling and positioning of both shearer and sheep.

“It’s all about being able to manipulate your body in a way that handles the sheep,” he stated.

“Shearing is really hard on a person’s back, so if you can use your legs and the ground to manipulate the sheep to use their own body to take their weight, it will allow you to be able to work longer and make it easier on your body and the sheep. In my job, I’ve learned through studies back home that every hour of shearing is equal to running about seven kilometres. So, anything that can make that easier will be better for your body.”

Chitwood, who has been raising sheep for wool for the past five years and has around 76 sheep, explained that hosting the clinic was a great opportunity to learn and bring together fellow wool producers.

“It’s always great to meet people in the industry and this was an excellent chance to be able to learn from one of the top shears around,” she said.

“Every little bit that can help you improve will provide you with a better chance at more earning potential and perhaps provide a longer career since you won’t burnout as quickly.”

 

Just Posted

Local 4-H club hosts club exchange

Nova Scotia club pays Ponoka Silver Valley 4-H a visit

Man arrested after door closed on fraud attempt

Ponoka dealership integral to capturing alleged theif, con artist

Yellow Vest Canada members make trip to Ponoka

A small group of Yellow Vest Canada members gathered at the Ponoka… Continue reading

UPDATED: Two wooden play structures in Ponoka set to be removed

No immediate plans to replace playground equipment

UPDATED: Sink hole from rain causes sewer line issue

Affected residents can now safely flush toilets

VIDEO: Calgary, Flames agree to terms on new NHL arena

The proposed 19,000-seat facility would replace the Saddledome at an estimated cost of $550 million

Weather Network’s anti-meat video ‘doesn’t reflect true story’: cattle ranchers

At issue is the video’s suggestion that cutting back on meat consumption could help save the planet

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

Alberta ahead of average tornado count at 17 so far this year

The province’s average over the past 30 years has been 12 tornadoes per year

The Beaverton’s sharp satire thrives in polarized political climate

Canadian TV series’ third season to air Tuesday on CTV after “The Amazing Race Canada”

Lightning hits pair of vehicles near Ponoka

AMA urges drivers to stay safe when storms roll in

Maskwacis RCMP seek public assistance to locate missing female

Maskwacis RCMP is asking for public assistance to locate 26-year-old Crystal Rowan.… Continue reading

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Rates of police-reported sexual assault rose for the fourth year in a row

Most Read