After three months working in shearing gangs across New Zealand, four Mongolian shepherds will soon return home with knowledge and skills that have the potential to change their lives and reshape the shearing scene in their country.
The four herders – known by their given names in the Mongolian convention as Budee, Baaska, Ama and Khanda – arrived in New Zealand in early January having done all their previous shearing using scissors, a time-consuming practice that limits the number of sheep that can be shorn in a day to about 30.
With their trip wrapping up shortly, each of the herders is now shearing using an electronic handpiece and all four have achieved shearing personal bests of more than 250 sheep in a day – a feat which has previously only been achieved by one other person from their country.
The visit to New Zealand was undertaken as part of the Share Mongolia programme – an initiative to introduce modern shearing techniques and equipment into Mongolia that took flight following a chance encounter between Rabobank agribusiness manager Paul Brough and farmers in Mongolia in 2019.
“While I was trekking through Mongolia in 2019, I came across a group of farmers who were shearing a herd of about 900 using scissors and they told me it would take them about a month to complete the job,” Brough said.
“This really blew my mind given how much quicker this can be done with electronic equipment, and I thought to myself, there must be something I can do to help. So once I got back to New Zealand, I had a few discussions with some work colleagues and clients, and we looked into running some training that would help develop Mongolian shearers skills with modern equipment.”