WITH summer upon us and a shortage of shearers, a Bass woman has started a sheep shearing side hustle to fill the demand in the area.
Chloe Dann, who learnt to shear two years ago when she took on a role at Phillip Island Nature Parks on Churchill Island, has spent her weekends in December shearing at farms in Bass Coast and South Gippsland.
“About 40 to 50 per cent of the shearing workforce comes from New Zealand and due to COVID-19, the shearers haven’t been able to come over obviously,” Chloe told the Sentinel-Times.
“I thought I’d do [weekends] to help out local people to get their sheep shorn because they’re not going to be able to get a shearer.
“It’s going to be a really big welfare issue for sheep if they’re not shorn before summer.”
With her battery-operated handpiece, Chloe has the ideal set up for small mobs of about 30 or less.
“There is something very satisfying about shearing a sheep – I love animals, so for me, it’s a welfare thing,” she said.
“When you can remove the wool from them in a really nice way, they look so good and so happy and you can treat things like lice and flystrike and all these horrible things that happen when they have too much wool.
“It’s a really pleasant thing to be able to do for the animal – I think that’s what I love most about it – seeing how happy they look after it.”
Chloe attended shearing school to learn the skill.
She worked full-time in shearing sheds from Traralgon through to Omeo from August to October this year.
“You learn about how they move and how they behave,” she said.
“I never really planned on learning to shear.”
Although she was one of only two women in the shearing school, Chloe said it was an exciting time to be a woman in the industry.
“From what I’ve experienced… from the teams I’ve been with and people I’ve met, it’s one of the leading industries in equality in that regard,” Chloe said.
“There is a really exciting change in culture that is happening throughout sheds at the moment and there are a lot of really competitive women shearers who can shear just as well, if not better, than some of the men.
“It means people’s attitudes towards women have completely changed in the sheds and people are not put off by women shearers; they are just as likely to hire a female as they would hire a male.”
You can contact Chloe at firstname.lastname@example.org.