3 Sep 2015

Ewe won't believe how much his wool weighed

6:44 pm on 3 September 2015

New Zealand has lost the world record for the heaviest fleece shorn off a merino to the Aussies.

A sheep similar to New Zealand's Shrek has been found near Canberra.

A sheep similar to New Zealand's Shrek has been found near Canberra. Photo: AAP

Otago's Shrek the sheep held the record up until last year when another wild merino - dubbed Big Ben - was found in the Mackenzie Country with a fleece which weighed in at 28.9kg.

But Australian national shearing champion Ian Elkins has just finished shearing a wild merino found near Canberra yesterday - this one dubbed Chris - and its fleece weighed in at 40kg.

Mr Elkins said he was called in to shear the Canberra wether - a job which had not been done in more than five years.

"The body weight of the sheep after it was shorn was 44kg, so it's quite amazing that it carried nearly that same weight in wool."

It took Mr Elkins and four helpers 42 minutes to shear the animal - a task which usually takes under three minutes.

Big Ben's fleece weighed 28.9 kilograms.

Big Ben's fleece weighed 28.9 kilograms. Photo: SUPPLIED

Shrek made world headlines in 2004 when he was found in Tarras after avoiding the shearer's clippers for six years. The wool taken off him weighed 27kg. He died in 2011.

Shrek the sheep

Shrek the sheep Photo: AFP

The RSPCA said it was not clear how long the Australian sheep found yesterday had gone without being shorn.

Originally the RSPCA wanted to shear the animal straight away, so they could see if the sheep was injured under its fleece.

"It'd be great to get someone here immediately so we can assess any serious medical conditions he might have as a result of this," Ms Ven Dange said.

"It can actually make it impossible for them to go to the bathroom ... we don't know how bad the damage could be because this has been building for a while.

"There are so many things that could go wrong with this, we won't know though until we can properly shear him."

Ms Ven Dange said while finding a shearer was good news, the sheep was not out of the woods yet.

She said sheep were often found not shorn because they had lost their herds but there was the chance the animal had been neglected.

"If it was done deliberately, yes, it would be a cruelty case, but in many cases it's not, sometimes it's just a lost sheep, literally," she said.