Southland woman smashes women's world sheep shearing record

Megan Whitehead.
Megan Whitehead. Photo credit: RNZ/supplied

Southland shearer Megan Whitehead has broken the women's world record for shearing the most number of lambs in nine hours.

During her world record effort today, in near-30 degree heat, the 24-year-old managed to shear 661 sheep - smashing the previous record of 648 set by Emily Welch in Waikato in 2007, Shearing Sports New Zealand says.

Each lamb was shorn at an average of just 49 seconds each.

Whitehead had to shear at least 72 lambs an hour, and Shearing Sports NZ said she was ahead of the pace from the start, shearing 153 in the first two hours from 5am to breakfast.

She then backed-it up with successive 1hr 45min runs of 132, 126, 125 and 125, hitting the goal with just under 10 minutes to go to knock-off at 5pm.

A support crew was headed by Whitehead's father Quentin Whitehead while Welch and fellow female shearing legend Jills Angus Burney were among the hundreds spectating.

World shearing great Sir David Fagan, who watched live-streaming at his home in Te Kuiti.

Reaching for the superlatives, predicted Whitehead would one-day be the first woman to shear more than 700.