Back with a bang, the 73rd Armidale Merino Ram Show and Sale junior judging competition saw numbers jump back up to over 70 participants this year as the event moved into its fourth year.
With an increase of over double what the contest saw last year, the event hosted a range of schools from the New England region with the aim of educating the next generation with the hope of encouraging a few fresh faces into the Merino industry.
Two young girls came out on top of the junior Merino sheep and fleece judging competitions on February 6.
The fleece section was judged by TAFE Armidale representative, Pauline Smith, who provided an in-depth discussion on what participants should be looking for in fleeces and the important of the industry.
Overall Kareena Dawson, who received first place in the senior section, was the winner of the fleece judging. Second went to Ed Simmons, third to Harry Simpson and fourth to Milly Sutherland, all from the seniors. Junior section winner, Cameron Fraer, was fifth overall.
In the junior section other honorable mentions went to Allie Carson who placed second, Sam Graham who placed third, Jordan Windred who placed fourth and Izzy Hine who rounded out the top five in fifth position.
Greg Fletcher, Murwillumbah, was the over judge of the Merino sheep judging competition with Landmark representative Angus Carter, Armidale, assessing the participants on their sheep handling abilities. AWI representative Stuart Hodgson provided an insight into how to assess the animals and the important structural and production characteristics, whilst also assisting with judging.
Fifteen-year-old Cilla Clonan dominated the senior section of the sheep judging going all the way and taking out the overall title.
Ms Clonan from the New England Girls School (NEGS), Armidale, has been involved in the Merino sheep industry from a young age through her family’s Alfoxton Merino stud.
“I have been judging sheep since I was little. Dad [Chris Clonan] used to take me along to a lot of the sheep shows and I have always been a part of it,” she said.
“I started getting good at it about 3 years ago and have had a couple of success in Canberra and Armidale.”
By winning the overall first place ribbon, Ms Clonan had the opportunity to judge alongside Dan Korff, Wagga Wagga, and Kim Henderson, Bowning, during the formal sheep show section.
“It was great being with the judges in the ring. They were so open minded and asked my opinion and let me be really involved,” she said.
“I am very thankful for the experience.”
She will continue her judging in the Merino sheep judging state final held at the Sydney Royal Easter Show later in March, where she will be the representative for the Northern Merino Ram Breeders' Association.
“We were already heading down there with sheep but now this is another thing I can do whilst I am there which is great,” Ms Clonan said.
Behind Ms Clonan in the overall placings was the junior section winner Billy Swain followed by Will Schmude in third. Tiana James was fourth overall after placing second in the senior section. Fifth went to Kareena Dawson who was third in the senior section.
Other ribbon winners were, in the senior section, Tom Carlon received fourth, and equal fifth to Rachel Westley and Rose Duncan. In the junior section third went to Mitchell Saxby, Jack Seis was fourth and Eliza Bowland fifth.
The event was sponsored by the Northern Merino Breeders Association Inc and NAB Agribusiness. NAB put on a BBQ for the participants to enjoy following their judging.