With sixty one Merino and Poll Merino studs on display during the 2023 Field Day conducted by SWS Stud Merino Breeders at Harden, the enthusiasm for quality sheep was palpable.
Proudly sponsored by Nutrien Livestock, it is the largest exhibition of the breed in the state, and despite talk of drought, wet paddocks, falling wool and sheep values, committed wool growers turned out to talk to stud masters and their mates.
"We had another big crowd, there was great atmosphere and lots of enthusiasm for Merino sheep," Jono Merriman, president of the committee said.
"People were genuinely looking at what was happening in the industry."
Visitors from Longreach, in Queensland and from South Australia and the New England attended.
There was a lot of interest in the judging of the 2023 SWS Stud Merino Breeders Ram of the Year, when 18 hoggets paraded before judges Rodney Kent, Kurrajong Park Merinos, Delungra, Rod Miller, Glenpaen Merino stud, Brimpaen, Victoria, and associate judge Lindsay Brown, Armidale.
The award was made to the Tara Park entry, bred by Guy and Anna Evans, Boorowa, while Ian and Janet Griffith, Brundanella, Grenfell, took second place and Michael and Jane Corkhill, Grassy Creek, Reids Flat, where third placed.
"As he gets older, the wool cut on this ram is only going to get better," Mr Miller said.
"There was an excellent lineup but the Tara Park ram is more of a stud type, with great breeding potential and he carried his wool underneath and down to his toes."
The Tara Park stud is retaining their champion ram as a reserve sire and his fleece measured 16.7m, 2.1 standard deviation, 16 co-efficient of variation and 99.9pc comfort factor.
The award is sponsored by Bromar Engineeering, Grenfell, and represented by Mark Liebich, and Riverina Wool Testers, Wagga Wagga, represented by Trent Fordham.
Backing up their success during the 2022 SWS field day, Michael and Jane Corkhill, Grassy Creek, Reids Flat, were presented with the Wendouree Perpetual Shield, for the 2023 SWS Stud Merino Breeders Pen of Three Rams.
Kim Whitechurch, Wendouree Merino stud, Grenfell, made the presentation while Ben Litchfield and John Gray, represented AWN, the other sponsor.
"The top team was absolutely perfect in structure," Rodney Kent said.
"For their 14-15 micron wool type they certainly were big sheep with beautiful fleeces."
Runner up was the Brundanella entry, while Steve and Liz Phillips, Yarrawonga, Harden, entered the second runner up team.
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