Ewe beauty: Trailblazing Jeanine Kimm shears her way to an Australian record

Ewe beauty: Trailblazing Jeanine Kimm shears her way to an Australian record

A New South Wales shearer has set a benchmark women’s world record for shearing the most merino ewes in eight hours.

In a chilly shearing shed in Cassilis, in the NSW Hunter region, Jeanine Kimm shore 358 ewes, making her average 80.8 seconds per ewe.

The 31-year-old is the first Australian woman to attempt a shearing record of any kind and the first woman globally to attempt a shearing record with merino sheep. 

In other countries, records are set using cross-bred sheep. 

New Zealander Sacha Bond shore 720 lambs in nine hours last year, which equates to one lamb every 45 seconds — but lambs are smaller than ewes.

‘Awesome technique’

Robert McLaren, a convener for the World Sheep Shearing Records Society, was referee as Ms Kimm made history in the first women’s merino sheep shearing world record attempt.

He said her technique had been “awesome”.

“It was a very tricky day for it, the temperature didn’t get above 14 degrees [but] she kept going, she did not slow up, her quality was pretty much the same all day,” he said.

Event coordinator Robert McLaren was ecstatic to see the new record.(ABC Rural: Ondine Slack-Smith)

The current men’s record is 500 merino ewes in eight hours, set by WA shearer Luke Vernon in April.

While Ms Kimm’s record is well below that, she is happy with the result.

“Initially I just wanted a challenge, I just wanted to see where I could push myself,” she said. 

For the past 12 months, Ms Kimm has been doing mobility and weight training to ensure her fitness was at a peak level. 

That has meant waking up at 4am for a gym session before putting in eight hours a day shearing.

“It’s a bit surreal to know that it’s all done and all my work’s paid off, and I get to celebrate with everyone that’s been so gracious in supporting me,” she said. 

Shearer Jeanine Kimm (in red singlet) with friends and support crew after her record-setting feat.(Supplied: Jeanine Kimm)

Women in the industry 

Only 3 per cent of Australia’s shearing workforce is female, according to 2021 census results.

But that may well have increased, with women taking on an increasing number of different roles in shearing sheds.

Last year, the Australian Wool Exchange reported that seven out of 10 wool classing trainees were women.

Ms Kimm hopes she can inspire others to get on board.

“I see so many strong women in the industry and if I’m to be the face for the record, I hope I do them justice,” she said. 

Jeanine Kimm averages a sheep every 80.8 seconds. (ABC Rural: Ondine Slack-Smith)

Laying down the groundwork 

Ms Kimm has been shearing for 11 years and said the preparation for her new record was just a physical one. 

“Shearing is very much mental, with your mindset and the way you push yourself,” she said.

“No matter what day you’re having, you’ve just got to knuckle in and know that you’re there for the day and wear it out,” she said. 

Mr McLaren said women were good shearers and Ms Kimm beat most of the men in the sheds she worked in.

“They seem to spend more time on the pattern, getting things right,” he said.

The people behind the scenes

Ms Kimm’s friend and co-worker Nikki Lyons was there for support on the big day and said she was inspired by Ms Kimm’s efforts. 

“I think it’s daunting to be the first person to set a record because you don’t have a target tally of what you’re aiming for,” she said. 

“Someone has to be the first to put their hand up and say, ‘I’ll give it a go, this is what I’ve got, someone else see if you can beat this’,” she said. 

 Jeanine Kimm and her good friend Nikki Lyons were all smiles after the big event.(ABC Rural: Ondine Slack-Smith)

Money raised from the record-setting day will go to Rural Aid, an organisation close to Ms Kimm’s heart. 

“Rural Aid is one of those charities that I feel gives something back to those rural communities and farmers right across Australia,” she said.

“It is something to give back to those rural communities that have supported us.”

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