WHILE the Euarra Merino flock is still going through a bloodline transition, its ewes were good enough to win the 25th annual Bathurst maiden Merino ewe competition, conducted by the Bathurst Merino Association last Friday.
The flock and property of O'Connell Merino stalwart John Bestwick and now leased by Tom Robert, was the last of eight flocks inspected during the day by 50 enthusiasts and return judges Chris Stapleton, Capree, Newbridge, and Katrina Blomfield, Karori stud, Walcha.
The tour began in rain, fog and mist, and finished in bright sunlight, but without any dust, which has been a hallmark of Central West ewe competitions so far this year, or at least to the week's rain event.
Speaking on behalf of the Euarra flock, Tom Robert said 2800 Merino ewes run on the property were 50 per cent of the operation's capacity on the 1224 hectare granite soil acreage.
"Last year we would have traded an additional 10,000 Merino sheep and 1200 cattle, and if we were to destock, the trading stock would go before we would touch our Merino flock," Mr Robert said.
The flock began the move from Woolaroo to Bella Lana bloodlines three years ago and is now three years into an eight-month shearing program with the 2019 main fleece lines cutting 4.6 kilograms at eight months while hoggets averaged 3.8kg in first shearing at 17 micron in January.
Average lambing over three years is 106pc and of the 2018 drop of 550 ewe lambs, 90pc have been retained to be classed by Brad Wilson, Nutrien, Dubbo during March.
Containment feeding for the past three years has been performed while lambs were yard-weaned earlier than normal.
"Yard weaning is the norm now. They probably only stay six or seven days, starting on straw and grain in our containment areas and then moved out into pasture of crop," Mr Robert said.
Mrs Blomfield said the ewes were well grown with good body length and depth through the barrel.
"It is a bit hard to judge the wool as they have only been shorn a few weeks ago, but they are pretty even in the wool, and have terrific conformation," she said.
Mr Stapleton agreed. "I mouthed a few and they are only two-tooth, and for their size, they are beautifully grown considering the season with really nice skins. They are productiv sheep."
The Inwood family headed by Jim and Elizabeth and Michael and Therese gained second placing with their superfine/ultrafine flock at Toulon, Glanmire.
Based on Karori blood since 2004 the flock has been producing 15.5 micron and up to 13 micron soft, bright wool from their October lambing and shearing.
In 2019 the main fleece wool cut averaged 4.3kg of 16 micron while the hogget line averaged 3.5kg of 15.8 micron with Michael Inwood classing both the wool clip and the ewes.
Mr Stapleton said they were a lovely line of well-presented ewes, very even in type.
"For the type of wool they are cutting they are very productive sheep," he said.
The commercial flock of Blink Bonnie, Tarana, run by Peter and Kaye Moore was awarded third place.
Mr Moore said he was trying to breed a productive sheep that grew strong wool in correlation to its woolcut, and a ewe that consistently rares a lamb.
The first entry of Hugh and Sue Webb, Grand Vista, Mt Olive, of 16.5 to 17 micron woolcutters, the progeny of ewes purchased from Alex Thompson, The Lagoon, in 2018 and then joined to Blink Bonnie rams was presented the encouragement award.