It pays to have a bit of a competitive streak if you’re a shearer, because you get paid by the number of sheep you shear; the more sheep you get through, the more money you get. This means that some friendly competition to increase tallies is pretty common in the shearing shed. In the early days of New Zealand shearing, that was all it was: friendly competition. But that friendly competition eventually morphed into something more formal, and New Zealand’s first proper shearing competition took place. Starting off at agricultural and pastoral shows in the late 1800s, those first competitions grew in popularity until we get to today, where the competition season runs from October to April, and consists of almost 60 official events. It’s taken so seriously that random drug testing of competitors is performed.