You have to be tough guy to make it amongst the world’s top throwers, but if you grew up driving tractors and pulling horns off cattle – the shot put's a doddle. World indoor bronze medallist Tom Walsh of New Zealand tells SPIKES about growing up on a farm.

Sheep shearing

“I used to do shearing on my uncle’s 9000-acre farm, which has about 5000-6000 sheep. We would usually shear the sheep once or twice a season. 

“The first step to shearing a sheep is to get them to sit on their backside with their legs facing out from your body. This can be hard depending on how stroppy the sheep is. The key in this situation is to hold them until they settle down. If they are facing out and do kick they won’t hit you in the face. I’ve been kicked on the shins and knees, but never suffered any serious injuries. 

“The idea is to shear them in the middle in one big piece if you can. Once finished you hand the coat to the people who sort out the fleece. I was never that good. It probably takes me five or six minutes [to shear a sheep] but it would take a really good shearer only about 1mins 20sec.” 

Livestock dehorning

“The idea here is to pull off the horns of cattle so they don’t fight and rip each other to pieces. We would usually try to dehorn them when they are young. The horns are about 10cm and if they are cut correctly they usually don’t grow back. 

“The head has to go in a lock and a guillotine-style implement is used to dehorn the cattle. If the horns are soft they can usually be easily ripped off.”

Tractor driving

“Tractors have 36 (!) gears and you would be surprised how hard they are to drive. Just knowing how to pick up bales of hay is quite a skill.

“Even a job such as mowing a paddock can be complicated because you often have to move around things and watch out for stones. A good tractor driver needs to be pretty switched on.”