Stud’s golden fleece

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Bob GarnantCountryman
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Seymour Park Poll Merino stud co-principal Clinton Blight was awarded with the WA champion fleece prize at this year’s Australian Fleece Competition in Victoria.
Camera IconSeymour Park Poll Merino stud co-principal Clinton Blight was awarded with the WA champion fleece prize at this year’s Australian Fleece Competition in Victoria. Credit: Bob Garnant/Countryman, Bob Garnant

A strong wool fleece from a WA-bred Poll Merino ram was sashed with the WA fleece champion ribbon at the Australian Fleece Competition in Bendigo, Victoria, last Friday .

The fleece competition was judged before the Australian Wool and Sheep Show was cancelled at the last minute, allowing fleece awards to be announced without any attendance.

Seymour Park stud co-principal Clinton Blight said his WA champion fleece measured 22.8 microns and scored 89.15 points out of 100, and was shorn from home-bred ram SP 23 sired by Seymour Park George.

As a medium-wool ram, SP George was sashed the supreme exhibit at the 2013 Rabobank Katanning Sheep Show.

The Blights entered two strong wool fleeces at Bendigo that were judged in class 23 — Strong Merino Stud Ram, with the WA champion fleece also sashed the Strong Wool Champion of the show, while the second fleece was sashed Reserve Strong Wool Champion.

Mr Blight was thrilled with his success and knowing that SP George continued to produce quality progeny.

“Both of our strong wool fleeces scored very high for strong fleeces, we are really pleased,” he said.

“This is our premier show to exhibit both our fleeces and Poll Merinos and we usually attend, but this year we decided it was going to be too difficult because of COVID. It was sad to hear that the animal judging was eventually cancelled.

“We think Bendigo is a great show to represent our WA Poll Merino genetics and it offers great opportunities to network with our Eastern States counterparts.”

Also representing WA, the Rintoul family, of Tilba Tilba Merino stud in Williams, had their best placed fleece in class 17 — Fine Medium Merino Stud Ram, which placed fourth.

The 20.3 micron fleece was shorn from a ram sashed Reserve Fine Wool Champion at last year’s WA Sheep Expo and Sale at Katanning.

Retired farmer Victor Pritchard, 80, of Dudinin, entered his 2021 Wagin Woolorama champion superfine wool fleece — non stud, at Bendigo that was shorn from a commercial wether.

“Although we didn’t get in the top placings, we were happy to donate the proceeds of our fleece to one of the charities,” he said.

Kade Lette, of Conrayn Merino stud, in Berridale, NSW, with his parents Jayne and Peter Lette, and brother Jaime, with their award winning grand champion fleece from the Australian Fleece Show at Bendigo, Victoria.
Camera IconKade Lette, of Conrayn Merino stud, in Berridale, NSW, with his parents Jayne and Peter Lette, and brother Jaime, with their award winning grand champion fleece from the Australian Fleece Show at Bendigo, Victoria. Credit: Australian Fleece Show

Superfine woolgrowers Peter and Jayne Lette, of Conrayn Merino stud in Berridale NSW, won the grand champion prize at Bendigo.

The couple won the overall title in 2010, but this year they also claimed the reserve grand champion prize to top off their sensational comeback success.

This year, the Lette’s 17.8 micron fleece that won over the entire 404 entries was an entry in the Superfine Merino Stud Ram class, scoring 94.2 out of a possible 100 points.

“Peter and I couldn’t believe it when we were told that we had won, and to receive the reserve champion award as well was a great surprise,” said Ms Lette.

The Conrayn Merino Stud Reserve Champion fleece was in the Superfine Merino Stud Ewe or Wether class, measuring 17.7 micron, achieving 94.43 points.

The Champion Commercial fleece was exhibited by L & M Harris, from Costerfield, Victoria, with a 20.1 micron fleece entered in the Fine Medium Merino Ewe or Wether section, scoring an impressive 92.83 points.

Endeavour Wool Exports director Josh Lamb and Nutrien Arcadian Wool Geelong agent Ian Shawcross judged this year’s event.

Mr Shawcross praised the standard of entries this year, with the winning fleece in a number of classes prevailing by only a fraction of a point.

“Any one of four or five entries could have easily won each section, as well as the grand champion,” he said.

Mr Lamb highlighted the differences from when he judged the competition in 2019.

“The previous competition certainly reflected the conditions at the time, with a large number of commercial entries impacted by lower yields and lower tensile strength,” he said.

“This year, we could see a major turnaround, again reflecting the better conditions in most areas.

“Processing requirements and purchase price are dictated by a number of factors, but strength and yield are key indicators.”

Competition convener, Nutrien Wool agent Candice Cordy, said she was proud the event reached a great milestone this year, celebrating 20 years of the competition.

“The Australian Fleece Competition is the largest fully measured fleece competition in the world, attracting more than 400 entries from 145 exhibitors,” she said.

“The competition is a joint effort by the Australian Sheep Breeders Association, Australian Wool Testing Authority and Nutrien Ag Solutions, and is run in conjunction with the Australian Sheep and Wool Show, from July 16 to 18.”

Nearly two thirds of the fleeces on show were donated by exhibitors to be auctioned at the completion of the competition, with all proceeds donated to a different nominated charity each year.

The annual Australian Fleece Competition is the largest fully measured fleece competition in the world.

Run jointly by the Australian Sheep Breeders Association, Australian Wool Testing Authority and Nutrien, the competition attracts fleeces from every wool growing state and caters for all major wool types.

All fleeces were weighed and sampled for objective measurement under the standard procedures of the AWTA and are also assessed by two industry experts.

At the conclusion of the competition, exhibitors have the opportunity to donate their fleeces to the selected national charity.

Thanks to the generosity of exhibitors, eighteen charities have shared in over $160,000.

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