Setting up a new business with clients around the world – as well as here in the UK – may be a tall order for any 21-year, old but Steven Rowberry from Herefordshire is doing just that.
He's using the skills he's learned as a sheep shearer to establish the new business that will find him travelling to Australia and New Zealand as well as other European countries every year.
Steven's family run 600 commercial breeding ewes and rear beef cattle on their farm at Allensmore. And it was while helping his step-father at home that he first became interested in shearing sheep – a job that encouraged him to attend one of the British Wool Marketing Board's sheep shearing courses.
It was something that clearly brought out a natural talent in Steven who achieved the BWMB's Blue Seal standard after attending his first course.
That was only three years ago and since then shearing has become almost a way of life for Steven who was a student at Hartpury College.
“The best thing about the Wool Board's shearing training courses is that they get you doing the job properly from the start. It's very easy to start picking up habits that can hamper your skills but the instructors on the courses make sure you learn the correct and most efficient way of shearing,” says Steven.
A great admirer of world-class sheep shearer and Devon farmer Alan Derryman – who is one of the Wool Board's team of instructors that has helped Steven – he's been working with a local sheep shearing gang around Herefordshire and Gwent and has recently returned from shearing sheep in the Midlands.
Last summer saw Steven enter his first shearing competitions which resulted in victory at the Royal Welsh Show where he took the junior title at his first attempt.
Last October Steven set-off for a five-month trip to New Zealand where he sheared sheep in North Island.
“The New Zealand trip was a great experience and something I'd encourage any young person to think about if they are interested in shearing. The Kiwis are really helpful and I was soon shearing sheep alongside their experienced shearers,” says Steven.
Steven had been shearing about 200 sheep a day here in the UK but by the time he left New Zealand in February he was nudging almost 300.
“And on my first day shearing this season here in the UK I sheared 270 so the experience was well worth it.”
Now confidently setting up his new business, Steven will be heading out to Australia as soon as the UK shearing season is finished and will then move on to New Zealand before heading back to work in Europe.
“I'd advise anyone interested in shearing to make sure they develop their skills correctly from the start and go on a Wool Board training course.
“It's harder to overcome things when you start off without professional help because you haven't been taught properly from the beginning - and that's why people who do go on the training courses learn faster and achieve a higher standard of shearing more quickly,” says Steven.
British Wool Marketing Board