Fine Merino Wool stories from the sheds

Fine Merino Wool stories from the sheds

  • NZ Natural Clothing

Fine Merino Wool stories from the sheds

Dion Morrell, World record sheep shearer

Dion still making the final at the Merino Shears Champs, winning the team event and winning the NZ-OZ test and he has over a decade on everybody else on the board! “Legend”

What do the professionals say?

When I started writing blogs about natural fibres and the qualities and properties of wool, I was relying on the 14 years I have in the retail clothing industry and the 10 years of owning and selling merino products from NZ Natural Clothing with my partner Julie.

It was only when a customer raised the treatment of animals while shearing issue (see the blog I wrote about this here), that I thought about Dion, my old school buddy, and his legendary shearing status here in both New Zealand and on the international stage. I thought that he would have something interesting to say about it!


I got straight on Messenger to Dion as we’re mates on Facebook.


Dion, what do you have to say about the way stock is handled in the sheds?

He did one better than just reply - Dion came to visit, he stayed the night and answered many questions!


Phil, the merino has a wrinkled skin and shears differently to cross breed sheep. Only the best shearers, in fact, only the top 5% of quality and productive shearers we put on these merino runs! To us, it’s all about the quality of the clip. We produce the best fleeces for the farmers by the way the wool is removed; no double cuts, skin cuts, the right amount left on the sheep for back in the hills weather, etc. Only the best shearers can do this for the farmer and for the sheep. The less stress, the better the clip, the smoother the day, and the whole process to the market!

Shearing gangs rely on quality, safety, productivity and delivery (the fleeces are classed as fleeces come off the sheep, before bales are sent to the merchants.) If we do not deliver all factors, we do not get the farm in the future, then that affects the whole run and the business, we are a quality machine.

This applies to the run of the mill crossbred wool sheep too. We can shear more in a day, almost double actually, as they are easier to shear with a smooth skin. But the quality to the market is what we are paid for, not just numbers down the woolshed race to the paddock.

Dion has been on the NZ shearing team of late. (in his 50’s) He puts his abilities down to a performance mindset and the muscle memory of shearing millions of sheep since he was 16 years old.

Dion runs Dion Morrell Shearing in Alexandra, Central Otago, with his wife Gabriela. He is on the Merino shearers Association and still shows on the world record books, see below. 

Why is it, that the price of the merino yarn is so high compared to dads heavy knitted work jerseys ?

  • Merino sheep cost 3-4 times the value to shear

  • The location is remote for many of the farms & High Country Stations

  • The quality/experience of the shearers, down to the care required.

  • The transport costs from the High Country of New Zealand is higher than farms closer to market.
  • Supply and demand. Fine merino wool is a sought after commodity. The finer/higher the micron, the higher price. Usually the higher microns come from the most remote rugged country where the sheep grow more fibre to battle the conditions. Alpine plants are merino treats!

Our NZ Natural Clothing Merino Garments can be traced back to NZ farmers, allowing us to be proud of ethical processes from the farm to the shopping bag.

See more of our 100% Merino garments here

Dion now shears in the Active 100% Merino singlets. (not available in Blue anymore per his photo, sorry!) He tells me he still has 2 of the 4 shearers singlets he bought off his granddad who worked in Reid Farmers, Gore, NZ, back in 1979! Now that is durability!

Thanks for reading, my next Blog is on the properties of merino and the advantages of this amazing natural Fibre.

Phil Grant, Director NZ Natural Clothing, phil@nznaturalclothing.co.nz