What was once the inspiration of a few enthusiastic young farmers many years ago has grown into a global competition. Sheep shearing -- the process of cutting the woolen fleece of a sheep -- is a popular sport in countries like Ireland, and has a reputation for having some of the fastest shearers. 

Zoetis recently sponsored the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) National Sheep Shearing championship at the 147th Balmoral Show, Northern Ireland's biggest agricultural event. The annual three-day event, which features farming and agricultural demonstrations and competitions, draws competitors and spectators from around the world. 

Competitors in the national championship are judged on speed, wool quality, shearing technique and safety of the sheep during the shearing process. 

Raymond Irvine, Senior Account Manager, Cattle at Zoetis, congratulated this year's finalists and presented the Zoetis/RUAS winner's trophy for the second year to Jack Robinson from Claudy, Northern Ireland. Jack, who has been shearing in competitions since he was 17 years old, spends six months of the year shearing in Europe and six months working at home in Northern Ireland. He has also spent several seasons shearing and competing in New Zealand. 

"As a local representative of Zoetis who provides our local farmers with quality products through the Agriculture Trade and Veterinary practices, the national sheep shearing championship, which is fast becoming one of the main attractions at the Balmoral Show, is a fantastic event to be associated with," said Raymond. "Just like these skilled shearers, we at Zoetis are passionate about providing solutions and services to the sheep industry in Northern Ireland, and we hope to continue our support of this event in the future."

Raymond Irvine (R) presents Jack Robinson with his trophy

Raymond Irvine (R) presents Jack Robinson with his trophy. Middle from left: Ian Montgomery, 2nd; Ken Ayres, Worshipful Company of Woolmen and Paul Smyth, 3rd. Back from left: Graeme Davidson, 6th; Thomas Perry, 5th and Jimmy McAuley, 4th.

Photograph credit: Columba O'Hare (Farmer's Journal)