Sheep Shearing

Fair | Clip
Aug 14, 2023 | 3 min

Some of the best sheep shearers in the country make their way to the Sheep Barn to compete in the 2023 Sheep Shearing Contest at the Iowa State Fair.


[Alex Moser] Hi everyone, we are here at the 2023 Iowa State Fair Sheep Shearing Contest in Des Moines, Iowa. We are hoping to have a good show today. We have the sheep ready. The competitors are all getting ready, and we are about to start.

[Judge] Go!


[Alex M.] We have four different divisions here today based on the shearers level. Juniors, which is under 18. Intermediates, which is shearers that don't shear full time. And then we have the open or senior professional division, which is full time sheep shearers. New, last year, they had a golden age so that is shearers that are close to retirement but still shear a little bit and just want to come compete for fun.

[Rocky Anderson] I've been shearing 50 years.

[Host] What do you think about when you are up there competing?

[Rocky] Whether or not I'm going to finish the job, at this age.


[Katie McRose] I have competed several years prior to this. I didn't compete last year, but I'm back. I'm going to be competing in the senior division for the first time. I am nervous every time I shear. If you're not nervous, you are not human, right? It used to be pretty rare for women to shear sheep, but now the sheep shearing art is really dying out. Average age of a shearer is somewhere around 50. So, we don't have a lot of youth coming in. But, we do have a lot more women coming in and that is very exciting to see. I have been doing this since I was 14. When I was 14 there weren't a lot of women in the industry. But now, 15 years later, we are starting to see a lot more women.


[Katie] I would not be surprised if you saw some 60 second sheep today, for sure. Two of the gentlemen that are competing today actually represented Team USA in Scotland this year at the Olympics of Sheep Shearing in Edinburgh, Scotland. They are going to be here. They are going to be some tough competition. Everyone is gearing up for the Sheep Shearing Olympics that comes again in 2026. We have to start gaining points, and the Iowa State Fair is a place where we will gain some points.

[Alex M.] Both of the U.S. team members are here. Myself and Nolan Abel. We are both from Iowa this time which is kind of neat. We ended up the 11th place team out of 29 countries that showed up. The sheep have been selected over thousands of years to grow wool. That's what they have been made for. That wool will just keep growing. Typically, you want to shear them at least once a year. Otherwise, the wool gets so long it affects how they get around. Affects their health. It's not sanitary. They don't shower everyday.