IN CONTRAST to the wools of sheep throughout the state holding plenty of dust since the beginning of this drought and being penalised for the dirt penetration, the winning flock of the 2020 Don Brown Memorial Merino Ewe Competition presented wools as close to best yield figures.
Flockmaster Jon L'Estrange, said he couldn't put his finger on the reason.
"But it certainly has a lot to do with the breed and nourishment going up through the lock," he said.
With wife, Colleen, the L'Estranges have now taken their winning tally up to five during the 40 years of this competition, winning four years in a row from 2004 to 2007 with Jon's cousin, Ken entering the fixture from the first year and gaining third place.
The L'Estrange name has featured long into this competition's history, however 2019 and now 2020 have been big years as the couple sold their home property Inglewood, but kept Marylands across the road and also invested in a smaller block near Forbes.
The Inglewood flock, like several in the Condobolin district, breeds its own rams with the long-term assistance of Barry Crouch of Crouch Brothers fame who supplied many a ram over the years and has classed the Inglewood flock.
The June/July 2018 drop maidens came from an 89 per cent lambing and a 29pc culling.
"They were shorn and went into the feedlot which we started last year," Mr L'Estrange said.
"They've been eating oats, salt and lime and a bit of vetch hay. But I must say, I'm really happy with the amount of dirt they have kept out, seedwise there's nothing there and maintenance wise, they are easier to maintain in the feedlot than they are in the paddock, and that looks after the paddocks as well.
"So that's a good thing."
Mr L'estrange said the clean wool was attributable to the feedlot having been established the year prior, the sheep's breeding bloodline and good lock structure and nourishment.
"I really can't put my finger on it, but it is the combination of all those things, and the wool has a good handle about it."
Judges on the day included Ray Cannon of Westray stud Peak Hill, who returned for his second year, and Bigga district superfine wool studmaster, Danny Picker, who is the introductory judge.
With them through the sponsorship of Moses and Son, Woolbrokers, the associate judge was Shaun Kopp of Towonga stud, Peak Hill, who has caught the eye of several show committees including the Don Brown.
Last year's winner and Central Western zone champion, the Crouch family's Karu Pastoral Pty Ltd, were a tad unfortunate with their maiden ewes this year held back slightly by the drought conditions forcing containment feeding.
Bred by Harold and son Phillip, with assistance from Philip's daughter, Meg, the ewes came from a 70pc lambing with 35pc culled to retain 29 head.
Regarding containment feeding, Phillip Crouch said he was getting better at feedlot situations.
"We've got a bit to learn about that, but we are getting better at it." he said.
"We shore these sheep in June and then locked them up in the feedlot.
"They've been eating pellets and hay and sold the culls for $229 each."
He said the pellets helped with the wool. Last year's ewe cut just over 10 kilograms.
The Crouchs breed their own rams from the Karu flock and are achieving good results year on year with the flock classed by Chris Bowman, Hay.
Rob and Belinda Neal and daughter, Louise, took out third placing with their Darriwell blood maidens class by Tom Kirk, now of Baldry.
The family first won the competition in 1989 and have been consistent placegetters since.
The 490 ewes were kept from a cull of 39pc.
They had been trail-feeding in paddocks with barley, pellets and barley straw hay split them into two mobs of 250 head for joining.