FOR production, most people would be proud to have these at home as a mob of commercial flock ewes, was how returning judge, Garry Kopp, described the winning flock of the 25th Ted Little Trundle Merino Ewe Competition on February 15.
Entered by Chris and Greg Burke, “The Kars”, Yarrabandai, their maiden ewes had first won the competition in 1997 and again in 2004 and were runners-up in 2015 and last year.
This year the Bundemar blood maidens classed by Tom Kirk, Condobolin,are growing 20 to 20.9 micron wool and came from a 110 per cent lambing in August to October. The 245 ewes displayed were the remainder of a 21pc classing out and were shorn in June-July.
Chris Burke said the operation worked on wool and meat.
“Our classed-out Merinos go straight to Border Leicester rams to produce first-cross ewes we run on another property,” he said.
“I feel meat is above the wool here at the moment and ewes have lambed up to 150pc, so from a fibre point that puts pressure on ewes to increase wool growth at present.”
“These are good breeding ewes, “ Mr Kopp, Towalba stud, Peak Hill, said.
Rick Baldwin, Bundilla stud, Young, the introductory judge said they were a “great line” of young ewes and liked the capacity, their width and depth with “great barrels”.
“I believe the Merino is the powerhouse for driving all your maternal genetics through your whole operation and on the wool side I think your wool cut is fantastic.”
Placing since 2013, Gowing Partners, of Cranley and Georgie Gowing and family earned runners-up status this year. The Darriwell blood flock classed by Russell Jones, Trundle, won the competition in 2013 and again last year, second in 2014 and third in 2015 and 16.
In 2016, 1000 ewes were joined to produce 475 ewe lambs from 97pc lambing with 300 head on display for judging and viewing. The average micron is 20.5 with lambing in April-May and shearing in August.
Mr Gowing said there were 30 ewes in the display that were unjoined in the scanning a fortnight before, so rams were put back to finish the job.
Mr Baldwin said production on the skins was outstanding.
“I think these ewes are some of the most productive across all the sheep we’ve seen today,” he said.
“They are made for this environment.
“There is a bit of variation in the carcases but if you took out another five per cent of those a bit shorter in the body, they’d be a very top team.”
Third placing went to the “Leewang” flock of James and Elise Nixon, Yarrabandai, originally under the hands of James’ late father, Grant Nixon who had won the competition eight times and placed in every year since 1999 until his untimely death.
The “Leewang” flock gained the encouragement award last year and has moved up a peg this year with its Bundemar blood ewes classed by Tom Kirk, Condobolin.
The average micron is 20.7 and 27 per cent were classed out from the 103pc lambing from 420 breeding ewes leaving 160 maidens lambed in July-August 2016.
James Nixon said the ewes were shorn last March and again in September cutting four kilograms which yielded 70.8pc and 60 millimetres in length.
“Their mothers’ wools yielded 73.5pc and cut 60mm length and are in a six-month shearing program and had lambs at foot.”
Garry Kopp said he was impressed with the better order of the sheep this year.
“They are definitley in better order this year and show more nourishment in the tips,” he said. “When you put them down the race you can see they are wools for this environment.”
The encouragement award went to Anthony and Margaret Simmons, “West Curyo”, Trundle, who have exhibited in each of the 25 years of the competition.
Their flock of Willurah and Plevna blood grow 19.5 micron wool and is classed by Boydie Aveyard of Plevna stud, Trundle.