During the 88th Merino ewe competition run under the auspices of the Berridale Agricultural Bureau, judge Richard Chalker, Lach River Merinos, Darby’s Falls, noted the focus on good 'fronts' in many of the 14 flocks entered, concerned as they are, with producing as much wool as possible.
“It is good to see the fronts…I like it, Mr Chalker, said.
This was his first year as judge at the Berridale Merino ewe competition, adjudicating beside return judge Rick Power, Landmark sheep specialist, Boorowa.
It is a serious competition, which also allows for in-depth discussion on the relative merits of breeding Merino sheep for profit.
Mr Power applauded all who entered along with the many visitors who came along.
“Use the ewe competitions to drive up driveways you have never been up before and would not normally have the chance to visit,” he said.
“Get out and look at what other breeders are doing with their sheep … we can all learn more about breeding the Merino.”
Winning the John Mooney Trophy for Overall Winner was the Yarrawonga-blood flock entered by Jane and Brett Constance, “Athlone”, Peak View.
This is the fifth time they have won the competition, and Mr Power made note of the evenness of the ewes entered.
“I guess as a line of ewes they are very uniform, with exceptional white wool with good style,” he said.
The Constance couple also won the Hazeldean Trophy for flock over 500 ewes, while Neil Lynch, “McCarthy’s”, Berridale won the Manawa Trophy for flock under 500 ewes.
Mr Lynch also won John Coy Peoples Choice and Cottage Park trophy for first in medium strong wool for his Main Range blood ewes.
Raymond Crowe and Jan Sorensen, “Rosemont”, Berridale, entered their Boujah and Main Range blood ewes and were awarded the Elders trophy for fine wool.
The Bindaree short wool prize was awarded to Ross Walters, “Springvale”, Dalgety, for his February shorn Cottage Park blood ewes which cut 7kg at 10 months.
Most improved prize went to Robert Hain, “Glengyle”, Berridale for his Egelabra blood flock bred along that genetic line since 1938.
Fifth win for Athlone Merinos
Winning the John Mooney trophy for overall winner for the fifth time merely confirms the genetic direction of Jane and Brett Constance on their 485 hectare property “Athlone”, near Peak View.
The couple have used Yarrawonga rams since they started their enterprise, and now have a flock with an adult average fleece weight of seven kilograms measuring 19-micron.
Mr Constance pointed out their aim is to breed a sheep which will rear a lamb and cut a decent fleece. “Jane and I have been on a bit of a ‘roller-coaster’.
“We have had them too short, too rough and then we tried to plain them up a bit,” he said.
Judge Rick Power, Landmark sheep specialist, was impressed with the ewes. “The body shape and wool cut is absolutely outstanding,” he said. “Keep going with what you are doing.”
Monaro-type ewes with softness and width
Neil Lynch has only been breeding Merino sheep on his property "McCarthy's" near Berridale for five years, but in that time has formed a flock which greatly impressed judges Rick Power and Richard Chalker.
He also readily admits he started with ‘ordinary’ ewes which were not of the standard he would have preferred, but he did have a limited budget.
“We only bought what we could afford, usually five and half year old ewes, but I can still see some faults coming through which has been inherited from one mob of those ewes,” he said.
Rams are purchased from the Tozer family at their Main Range stud, and Mr Lynch said having them as neighbours was a tremendous incentive to breed sheep as well as he possibly can.
“I only have a small flock and I want to have a good main line of wool with few cast lines,” he said.
Judge Rick Power noted the ewes entered for competition were well balanced and square.
“Very productive ewes with great outlook and plenty of width,” Mr Power said.
“There is thickness which runs through the heads and the wool has extremely good handle.”
Mr Power noted a few of the ewes were a little close behind, but overall, the body shape is right.
Judge Richard Chalker agreed and said the ewes were exactly the body type he had been stressing as the ideal standard.
“They are a prime example of head and hips I look for, and they have a beautiful lock structure,” he said.