13 May 2024

Binalong woman sets world shearing record - 358 sheep in one day

| Sally Hopman
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woman shearing

Champion shearer Jeanine Kimm shows her skill during her record-setting shear last week – the first woman to shear 358 merinos in a day. Photo: Supplied.

When Jeanine Kimm, 31, was a girl growing up on the family farm, her parents told her, as far as a profession was concerned, she could do anything she wanted to do.

Gender did not come into it, her father Noel, mother Mary and aunty Margaret Johnson told her.

Today the young woman from Binalong, in the Yass Valley, has set a world record for her gender, shearing the greatest number of sheep in eight hours – 358. She is also the first woman to set such a record with merinos, shearing a total of 1.2 tonnes of fine wool on the day.

“I really hope I’ve opened the gates for someone else to try,” she said. “They might be able to shear more, but I’m biased in saying they’ll never have a better support team.”

The achievement has been 12 months in the training. Although she has been shearing for 11 years, to set such a record took just about everything from Jeanine and her support crew. She enlisted a personal trainer from the UK to help with mobility weight training and cardio, but her day-to-day shearing was probably the best prep for the young woman.

But perhaps the best advice she received on deciding to try for the record, was from her family.

“My dad, mum and aunty were all shearers,” she said. “They were all mentors for me.

“The industry really has an amazing group of people in it, but those three were the ones who shaped me.”

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Has it been hard for her in an industry which, in days gone by, refused to allow women into sheds? “Yes, there have been a few incidents, but I put that down to people being rabbits,” she laughed.

The plan to set the shearing record, Jeanine said, was “to put myself out of my comfort zone.

“There’s more to living life than just doing what you do … I wanted to be an example for other women.”

The record attempt took place at Dalkeith, near Cassilis, and about 150 km north of Hill End, where she grew up.

Woman and man in shed surrounded by shorn sheep

Jeanine Kimm with her father Noel – and the 358 sheep she sheared in her world record achievement. Photo: Nikki Lyons.

It wasn’t just a matter of shearing the 358 sheep. Jeanine’s support crew organised special meals for smoko and lunch. Instead of the usual sandwiches, fruit, yoghurt and a muesli bar for smoko and hot food for lunch, she said her sister helped with her nutrition so she had the energy needed for the task ahead.

“Every time I turned around my sister tried to feed me something,” Jeanine laughed. “She kept trying to jam it all in. I’m usually a fairly big eater, but not like that.

“We tried to keep it all clean – carbs and protein for recovery; my sister kept handing me bananas. For lunch I had mashed potato and sweet potato with fish and veggies.

“The hardest thing was to keep my hydration up. I wasn’t sweating a lot because it was a really cold day but I had to keep drinking.

Five people

Jeanine Kimm and her support team after she set the shearing record. Left, her mother Mary Kimm, aunty Margaret Johnson, event organiser and mentor Mark Constance, Jeanine Kimm and her father Noel Kimm. Photo: Supplied.

So how did she pull up after shearing 358 sheep in eight hours?

“It felt like a bus hit me,” she said. “But once I got up I was OK, just a bit stiff.”

Jeanine said she and her support crew celebrated with “a couple of beers and some tea” at 5:30 pm after the shear.

“It was great because so many people turned up to support me, people I hadn’t seen for years.”

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Although now well settled in the Yass Valley, Jeanine originally came from Hill End, before moving down onto the Monaro near Cooma, Bombala and then Binalong.

But her job today takes her wherever the work is. Although shearing can be a seasonal trade, Jeanine reckons she’s lucky to be rarely out of work.

Would she try to break her own record down the track? “I wouldn’t mind,” she said. “I’m just enjoying this for the moment. It was a relief to get there after so much hard work.

“But I know I can do more. There is always room for improvement. The thing about this industry is that you never stop learning. That’s why I love it.”

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