Doug has been shearing sheep for 35 years and shears with both machine and hand blades. Although he mostly shears farm flocks in the Midwestern United States, he also has had a variety of shearing experience throughout the US and abroad.
Doug has sheared in New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Wales, England, Norway, Australia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan (Central Asia).
In 1988, Rathke was the first American to receive the “Gold Seal of shearing excellence” from the New Zealand Wools, known today as Tectra. In 1993, he became certified in New Zealand at hand blade shearing.
Doug was selected as a USA shearing instructor and has facilitated numerous schools, teaching over 2500 students to shear sheep. Doug has conducted shearing school in the US, Canada, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. He also has produced his own shearing instructional DVD called “Sheep Shearing Made Easy”.
Over the past two decades, Rathke has consistently had top placings at various USA contests in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, California, South Dakota, and Edmonton and Calgary in Canada. In 2000, Doug won the Nationals in Denver, Colorado. He has been selected as the Charlie Swaim Tournament USA shearer of the year in 2004 and 2005.
Rathke has represented the USA Shearing Team for the Golden Shears World Sheep Shearing Championships in 1996, 1998, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2010. He competes in hand blade shearing, machine shearing, and wool handling.