GRAHAM Wallace openly admits his Merinos are his first passion.
His old dog comes second and his wife, Maureen, third.
Mrs Wallace laughs, but fully supports his devotion, which she acknowledges is all towards her when he's away from his sheep.
Melrose Pastoral operated by Graham and Maureen Wallace with their son Adam and daughter-in-law Sarah at Melrose, Morongla near Cowra, have been Lach River stud clients for some five years running 18.3 micron (average) Merinos on their sandy loam country and leased hill country to the east.
The flock has either won or placed second in the Mid Lachlan Merino Ewe competition since its inception in 2018 when placed second. then first in 2019, second last year and back to winning circles this year.
The flock also picked up the western sector winning flock and medium wool winning flock, plus the long wool award.
Graham Wallace said the family was trying to get as much wool as they could onto their sheep.
"But we don't forget fertility," he said.
"We like to cut around that eight kilogram fleece and we mark around 130 per cent of lambs.
"But we don't need much of an excuse to cull a sheep at classing, which will be joined to the White Suffolk rams to create a bit of cashflow towards the end of winter."
He said lambing percentages had gradually increased since scanning was introduced.
"Twenty years ago 90 to 100pc lambing was the go, but we have increased lambing percentages and conception rates since," he said.
The flock average micron is now 18.2, which Mr Wallace said had broadened from a fine 17 micron since Lach River ram introduction.
There are now more twinning ewes than singles and eight-year-old ewes still rearing lambs within the flock.
Two judges and an associate officiated on the day with Cam Munro, manager of Egelabra stud, Warren returning, Steve Phillips, Yarrawonga stud, Yass the other judge while his son, Sam Phillips was associate after finishing a jackarooing stint at Egelabra.
Mr Munro was very impressed with the maiden ewes displayed.
"You can see the passion around here, the Wallaces are obviously enjoying what they are doing and the sheep reflect this," Mr Munro said.
"These ewes standout and I can see the nourishment in their wools that handle well, and plenty of it. I really can't fault them much as all."
Steve Phillips said the ewes were very productive, big barreled sheep.
"I think if you are cutting 8kg of wool and getting 130pc of lambs, you are not doing too much wrong," he said.
Runner-up flock was the Demondrille blood Karoola flock of the Dawe family, Young, with maiden ewes from their 18.5 micron average flock.
The Karoola flock has been using Demondrille rams for some 35 years.
As the men were out harvesting Patrick Davis who classes the flock said the Dawes liked the fine wool sheep that were well nourished with good skin and bred in straight farming country.
Nigel Dawe with three sons and three daughters are involved in the mixed-farming enterprise and retained 700 maidens from the 2018 drop making a 23pc classing out rate and keep as many ewes as possible in the current 1800 ewe flock.
Wether lambs are usually marketed after shearing in September.
Third placing went to Stephen and Alison Rutledge's Nargong Partnership based at Watervale, Woodstock, and of Lachlan Merinos bloodlines and flock micron average of 18.8.
Their granite country produced a flock average of 18.8 micron and wool cuts averaging 5.8kg greasy and a clean wool cut of 4kg from a September shearing.
Encouragement award was presented to Rachel Pritchard of the Dawe family's Karoola flock, Young, for her flock management, especially when her father and brothers are away working at other business enterprises.
With her sister Jackie Osborne, they work closely as a team with Jackie busy with bookwork when not outside.
- See more photos on P 56.