Seven Merino flocks bred in the Bookham, Binalong and Harden districts, were entered in the 2023 Bookham Agricultural Bureau ewe competition.
Judges Jason Southwell, Orange-based sheep classer, and sheep breeding and husbandry consultant Jim Meckiff, JM Livestock, Wagga Wagga, complimented all woolgrowers on exposing their 'souls' for examination by their peers.
"It is a soul-searching experience to open your breeding aims to others," Mr Southwell said.
"We have seen some wonderful Merino ewes here today, and they are obviously the best sheep for this area for these sheep breeders."
Mr Southwell said the Southern Tablelands and the South West Slopes are two of the renowned districts in the state for breeding Merino sheep for their fine wool.
"We have driven past many other properties where Merino sheep are bred, but only the very keen producers have entered their flocks for competition," he said.
When assessing the Bogo-blood, February-shorn flock entered by Chris and Margot Shannon, Talmo, Bookham, near Yass, Mr Southwell posed the question - "with the markets going through an unstable period, where do you see wool as a component of your overall operation and how has they changed during the past twelve months?"
"We have never fallen out of love with wool," Mr Shannon answered.
"It's our main enterprise and the sales of sheep have been fantastic.
"We join our seconds to White Suffolks, and the sale of those lambs has been great for the past 10 to 15 years and I don't see any reason to change that program.
"It works well - we keep all our seconds after classing, but certainly the wool market is hanging on better than the sheep market."
Mr Shannon is quietly confident the values for saleable sheep will return after the backlog of red meat in chillers overseas is cleared.
"I think the demand for wool and red meat is still going to be strong for the future," he said.
"We won't change anything, we are not trying to breed a massive animal, and maintain the quality of our wool."
Mr Shannon did note one change in the structure of his Merino flock due to the purchase of additional land.
"We will keep our wethers to run on our lighter country at home," he said.
Mr Southwell further noted the "beauty" of the Merino ewe competitions, which encourages producers to discuss their plans for the future.
"There is quite a geographical and enterprise spread through the entrants in this competition," he said.
"And we are going to see people with different breeding objectives but who understand their country and are breeding sheep fit for purpose."
Presented with the Elders Award for the best ewe flock, were David and Sarah Weir, Bertangles, Bookham, for their Bogo-blood, January-shorn maiden ewes.
The Bogo-blood, January-shorn maiden ewes bred by Sam and Row Weir, Idlemere, Bookham, were bestowed with the Gordon Litchfield Wool award for best ewe team.
First-time entrants, Max and Zoe Giles, Binalong, near Yass, received the the Bogo Merino stud encouragement award for their February-shorn Grassy Creek-blood maiden ewes.
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