A CHANGE in the format of the Chris Naake Memorial Merino flock ewe competition made it harder to get an idea of the breeding direction and type of an entire flock among the 11 competitors, according to the judge, Henry Armstrong, Pemcaw stud, Dunedoo.
Competition coordinator, Brett Cooper, Australian Wool Network, Mudgee, said due to the drought it was deemed better to invite flocks to present up to 10 maiden ewes at Mudgee showground instead of cancelling the regular field day trip this year.
Looking for ewes with a good balance of wool cut and frame, Mr Armstrong said he enjoyed judging the different types that the Mudgee competition presented.
He found his winner in Wattle Grove Partnership of Mick and Wendy Inder and family with Mick's father, Joe, Matfield, Dunedoo, with ewes from their 18 micron bulky fine-medium wool flock of 1400 Langdene blood, the first rams being purchased by Joe back close to 1984.
Mr Armstrong said the ewes had everything he believed contributed to a highly profitable self-replacing flock.
"Ewes had good size, length of body and would cut plenty of high quality white wool," he said.
Mick Inder said the maidens were from a 700 head 2018 drop and after a 28 per cent cull at an early-age classing by Garry Cox of Langdene stud and the flock averages a 7.5 kilogram wool cut, excluding lambs.
The Inder family also run a very successful first-cross lamb production flock based on classed-out Merino ewes joined to Border Leicester rams. At this year's Dunedoo Sheep Breeders sale their first-cross ewe pen topped at $281 a head.
Maiden ewes bred by Les and Marj Deutscher, Tooloon, Goolma, were placed second with Mr Armstrong saying they showed a lot of potential, with plenty of length in the muzzles that translated to good length of body.
The Langdene blood ewes came from a 500-head drop before a 20pc cull classed by Gordon Cox. The flock has been on Langdene for some seven years and averages 19 micron with an overall average wool cut of 5.5kg.
The flock boasts 1200 ewes now in their second week of joining.
Mr Armstrong said the ewes had heavy lock structure that would enable them to cut good amounts of wool as the seasons improved.
Karl Weatherley and partner Amy McKenzie with Karl's parents Brian and Margaret feature in the Woodbine Partnership, Ilford, whose ewes were awarded third placing in their second year return in the competition after an absence.
They have been on Bocoble blood for more than 40 years and run a 19.5 micron average flock while this year's maidens measured 18 micron. Wool cut of the whole flock averages 5.2kg while the maidens cut 5.6kg.
Brian Weatherley was a keen competitor in years past.
Mr Armstrong said the ewes had a lot of condition in their wool and also had a higher fat score.
"I thought they were on the right track with good frame size, lock structure and skin types," he said.
Peter and Tina Doherty, Roine, Goolma, were highly commended with ewes of Trynow blood while Wallerwaugh Pty Ltd, Glenfoyle, Grattai, of Greg and Richelle Lawson, were also highly commended for their ewes of Langdene blood.