Six facing merino challenge

Michael Traill and Cally DupeNarrogin Observer
Brittany Simmons, Haydn Guerini, Alika Gould, Tate Barrett, Lachlan Bradshaw and Daniel Schilling.
Camera IconBrittany Simmons, Haydn Guerini, Alika Gould, Tate Barrett, Lachlan Bradshaw and Daniel Schilling. Credit: Michael Traill

Six WA College of Agriculture Narrogin students are about to travel to Sydney Showgrounds for the Australian Wool Innovation’s National Merino Challenge.

The group, many of whom have never been to Sydney, will join a trio of students from the WA College of Agriculture Cunderdin in competing against other Year 11 and 12 students this weekend in a range of sheep handling and visual assessments.

It is expected more than 100 aspiring wool brokers, wool growers, consultants and livestock nutritionists will descend on the showgrounds for the seventh National Merino Challenge.

Year 12 student Daniel Schilling hopes the interstate trip will broaden the range of skills the students learn in class and on farm at the college.

“(The challenge will) expand our learning about the livestock industry and all the opportunities that we’re being provided with over the weekend,” he said.

“We’ll be doing a range of activities including ram and ewe selection, wool judging and valuing, and condition scoring the sheep.”

Assistant farm manager at the WA College of Agriculture Emily McDonald said the National Merino Challenge had been a success for students who participated in previous years.

“The students aren’t just doing merino judging, fleece judging; it’s more about the nutrition that an animal needs, being able to value their own fleeces on farm.The more correct they can get their answers, the higher their score is against the other students,” she said.

“It’s been a really good learning trip (in previous years); that’s the main reason why we go, the additional learning that they get out of it.”

There are two divisions at the challenge — a secondary school division for Year 11 and Year 12 students, and a tertiary division for university and TAFE students.

Now in its seventh year, the National Merino Challenge was founded by Australian Wool Innovation to give students a hands-on look at the sheep and wool industries.

Students will also mingle with industry figureheads at a gala dinner on the Saturday night, to learn more about career opportunities in the sheep and wool industries.

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