NARRANDERA sheep classer, Michael Elmes, classed up his ninth flock win and all three placegetting flocks in the Lake Cargelligo Merino Ewe Competition.
Conducted by the Lake Cargelligo Show Society, the day’s tour took in eight commercial flocks attracting 50 spectators with much discussion placed on their views of Merino flock profitability. Much of the talk was led by the two judges, Peter L’Estrange, Belswick stud, Condobolin, and Matthew Coddington, Roseville Park stud, Dubbo.
Winner was the “Glen Echo” flock of Justin and Nat McCarten, Erigolia near Rankins Springs, who displayed their maiden line of 21-month-old ewes of One Oak Poll blood growing 19.8 micron wool and average cut of 5.9 kilograms yielding 64.1 per cent at 10 months of age.
The flock’s maidens drop had a weaning rate of 115pc and was classed by Michael Elmes of Smart Stock, Narrandera. “Glen Echo” runs 1300 breeding ewes with the maiden cull at 33pc and they had six months of wool growth.
Returning judge, Peter L’Estrange commented on the massive improvement in the ewes, liking their body size, length and depth.
“They have great hindquarters and long muzzles with deep jaws and good wool cutting ability for their micron with better dust resistance for the environment,” he said.
Matthew Coddington said the McCartens had done a wonderful job of managing the maiden ewes which gained weights up to 90kg.
“It’s fantastic to see sheep managed so well and fed to achieve their full genetic potential,” he said.
A Merino enterprise gross margin was run across all flocks by the committee with the McCartens’ flock returning the third highest gross margin of $268.20 a head and was also awarded the People’s Choice accolade.
Judging’s second prize went to the Ireland family, “Alandale” Tullibigeal, conducted by Alan and Jennifer Ireland with daughters, Tara-Jane Ireland and Meagan and Brad McKenzie.
It was only days later that the Merino fraternity heard the sad news of the death of Mrs Ireland and offered their deepest sympathy to the family.
One Oak blood also featured within this flock which won the competition last year.
Ewes displayed came from a 27pc classing by Michael Elmes and were 20-months-old growing 21.3 micron wool and cutting 4.9kg yielding 66.45pc at six months while the flock average at 12 months is 10.2kg.
Mr L’Estrange said the ewes had good open heads with long, deep bodies.
“They also have good neck development showing good wool cutting ability without too complicated or extreme for their type,” he said.
The ewes were in a good condition score of 3.5 which has set them up well for lambing. They are only joined for two cycles (35 days) then Merino rams are removed and two weeks later the family’s stud White Suffolk rams are introduced. The flock totals 640 ewes which lamb at 123pc.
The “Alandale” flock won the best financial flock award with a Merino gross margin of $301.97 a head.
Third place went went to Peter and Megan McCarten’s McCarten Farms, “Nargoon”, Erigolia, with their 20-month-old Wanganella blood ewes growing 20.07 micron wool cutting 7.3kg with 10 months growth yielding 69.65pc.
Lambing percentage was 119pc and the ewes displayed were carrying four months of wool and the flock achieved the second highest estimated gross margin at $279.33 per head.
An encouragement award went to Maree Stockman, “Forest Lodge”, Gubbata, who displayed her flock of Ninuenook and Lachlan blood ewes classed by Glen Rubie, Forbes.
After a 37.8pc classing out from the breeding flock of 1950 ewes lambing at 105pc, the 19 micron maidens were among the flock’s average wool cut of 7.25 with a 55pc yield. The maidens were carrying four months of wool at 19 month of age.
Judges commented the flock showed noticeable improvements in size and body type. Ms Stockman said the ewes were supplementary fed for 12 months of the year and were grazed on fallowed land and native and improved pastures. The flock returned a Merino gross margin of $240.84 per head.
Much discussion during the day was based on the benefits of six-month shearing with guest speaker, Gregory Sawyer, of Western Sydney University, detailing his trial on multi-shearing versus annual shearing – positives and negatives for animal welfare and wool production.
Mr Coddington said he used the management practice on his own farm and could see the economic boost from better condition scores, better wool quality and improved lamb conception and survival rates.
“With the current wool market and the genetic gains in the Merino industry for high yearling weights, muscle depth, fat depth and lean meat yields, the Merino lamb enterprise is now in front of a prime lamb enterprise in the sheep-wheat zone,” he said.
“Especially now when live weaning weights out here are hitting 40kg and lambing rates are hitting 120pc with the lambs producing 5kg of wool. “Higher wool prices put the Merino wether lamb in front of a prime lamb by $18 a head with lower feeding costs due to lower stocking rate demands.”