THE floods and wet weather couldn't knock the shine off the quality Merino ewes entered in this year's Parkes PA and H Association Merino Flock Ewe Competition.
Many of the maiden ewe entries has endured wet weather all their lives and even though their fleeces have the tell tail signs of this, their genetics and the top-notch management of the principals have stood them in good stead for the future.
Both judges Warick Kopp, Towalba, Peak Hill, and Scott Thrift, AWN, Dubbo, said they were impressed with the resilience of the flocks right across the day of judging.
Six Merino enterprises threw their hats in the ring for the competition, but it was the Witherow family, Ranfurlie, Parkes, that took home the top prize of the Doug Bicket Perpetual Memorial Trophy.
Steve Witherow said floods went through their property which washed away infrastructure such as fencing and disrupted the growth of both their autumn and spring drop sheep.
He said the autumn drop lambs grew quicker at the start, but the spring drop were now catching up.
The Witherow family run an 18-micron flock (measured from ewes at two years) based on Roseville Park bloodlines.
They lamb twice a year in March/April and July/August. Their lambing percentages for 2021 came in at 90pc for the autumn drops and 120pc for the spring lambs.
To demonstrate the vast amount of rain received, Mr Witherow said their average rainfall is about 533 millimetres, but last year the family measured 858mm.
They normally cull 20pc and had 176 ewe lambs in 2021. About 30pc of their ewes were joined to other breed rams.
Shearing occurs in June each year.
The judges said they were impressed with the robustness and frame of the winning sheep.
"They are well presented, have good bone and physically strong sheep," Warick Kopp said.
Second place was awarded to the Dunn family, Reedy Creek Partners, Mandagery. They were presented with the Gordon Wright Perpetual Memorial Trophy.
Luke Dunn described the family-run enterprise as being a mixed-farming operation.
He said they aimed to produce well-balanced, fine-wooled sheep that were easy care. Hamish McLaren, Nerstane, Woolbrook, is their classer.
"We've been aiming to increase the cut fleece weight and the fertility," Luke Dunn said.
They have been using electronic tags on their sheep for about 15 years and they use the data to not just manage to flock, but to ensure they are not hitting extremes that were either side of their breeding and production aims.
"In line with paying close attention of the data we collect, we've also been working on improving our ewe's foot structure," he said.
The Dunn family flock is based on Nerstane and Grass genetics and their adult ewes at two years have an average of 17.2-micron wool.
Lambing occurs in August and in 2021 they weaned 110pc lambs, while they shear in September.
They cull 30pc of the flock and 33pc are joined to other breed rams each year.
The encouragement award was presented to the Cole Family, Pindari, Mandagery, who were also last year's overall winners.
Scott Thrift picked the ewes out straight away as a true Langdene type and Geoff Cole backed this up by commenting that they had been using Langdene genetics for about 15 years.
The Cole family recorded 1153mm of rain in 2022 (their average was normally about 650mm). Their 18-micron flock had a lambing percentage of 95pc in 2021 and they culled 37pc.
Mr Cole said they lamb in September and shear in July. Their sheep were classed by Gary Cox, Langdene, Dunedoo.
About 20pc of their ewes were joined to other breeds.
The availability of shearers was an ongoing conversation topic during the competition with many concerned by the limited number of shearers entering the industry.