Angenup supreme at Katanning

Bob GarnantCountryman

The frost-free quality of Merinos was how Angenup stud principal Rod Norrish explained his family’s versatile sheep breed of choice, after winning the supreme award during last week’s chilling temperatures at the Rabobank WA Sheep Expo and Sale in Katanning.

The Norrish family were once again delighted with their success after the three judges warmed to Angenup’s long-stapled 21.8 micron medium wool Merino ram, now twice acclaimed with the purple sash having adorned the coveted ribbon earlier this year at Wagin Woolorama.

“Running Merinos is miles ahead of the cropping game and much less risk if you’re hit with freezing temperatures,” Mr Norrish said.

“We enjoy farming sheep and it was a privilege to present one of the best Merinos in the show, plus we were pleased the ram was appreciated after it sold at the expo auction.”

Mr Norrish, who is head steward at the expo show and farms with his sons Gavin and Paul and their families, was assisted by grandsons Lachy and Matthew this year, both showing interest in the expo outcome, while granddaughter Lara said she was proud to wear her school woollen jumper at Bunbury Grammar.

Other youth who participated at the expo included students from four WA College of Agriculture schools all competing in the WA State Ag School Sheep Handling Challenge.

Stud Merino Breeders Association of WA president Steven Bolt announced the winners of the challenge from the WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin (team one).

“Many of the participating students gained valuable knowledge in shearing, sheep and wool classing and meat judging, all of which will go towards securing more profitable Merino enterprises of the future,” Mr Bolt said.

The majority of regular show participants said the gap was closing between financial returns from crop versus sheep, particularly because of current low crop prices brought about by an over-supply.

Nevertheless, running a mixed farm is still one of the best options for any farming enterprise.

Anglesey Merino stud principal Geoffrey Shepherdson, of Gnowangerup, said his family cropped two-thirds of the farm and grazed sheep on the balance, which complemented the environment and maximised financial returns.

Mr Shepherdson was also very pleased at the expo when his evenly matched “paddock-run” Poll Merino rams were sashed with the Elders Expo Four award.

“Running a stud involves a bit more effort than a commercial sheep enterprise but Anglesey stud Merinos are standing on their own two feet in business terms,” he said.

With stud breeders relying on sheep shows to market their product, and to compare apples with apples, the show judges know what’s on the line when making their decisions.

During the expo show, judge James Sullivan was in awe of the scale (extra length of body), of the full wool Angneup ram.

Mr Sullivan also spoke highly of a March shorn medium wool Merino ram, exhibited by the Mianelup stud.

“This ram (Mianelup tag 00142) has beautiful rich, well-nourished wool with a tremendous outlook,” Mr Sullivan said.

After these two Merino rams were judged champions of their respected classes, they stood side by side in the grand champion Merino ram judging but the Angneup ram prevailed.

No matter, the Richardson family, of Mianelup, were quite pleased with their ram which was earlier crowned the junior champion ram of the show and also presented with ribbons for the grand champion March-shorn and reserve grand champion Merino rams, matching the stud’s previous success at the expo.

Mianelup also performed well in the Poll Merino ram judging, with a March-shorn ram winning the production class ribbon.

This ram, Mianelup tag M00144, scored 86.8 points to take out the competition which included 20 rams in total.

With a weight of 128.5kg, it scanned 7mm fat, 41mm of eye muscle depth, measured a fibre diameter of 19.7 and a comfort factor of 100 per cent.

In the visual scores the ram equalled the highest score of 45 out of 50 points and had the highest objective score of 42 points out of 50.

The judges awarded the overall grand champion Poll Merino ram ribbon to an August-shorn medium-wool ram exhibited by the Seymour Park stud.

Mr Sullivan said the 20.3 micron ram, Seymour Park tag A00324, had great style, was well balanced and had a great outlook.

To win that prestigious broad ribbon, it had to compare favourably against its March shorn equivalent — a 17.5 micron fine wool Poll exhibited by Claypans, showing an excellent balance of quality wool and a strong meat component in a square frame.

In the supreme line-up, other than the Angenup Merino ram and the Seymour Park Poll, stood two ewes — an August-shorn Merino exhibited by the Navanvale stud, and an August-shorn Poll Merino exhibited by Claypans — both grand champions of their respected classes.

In the group classes, Seymour Park showed its depth of breeding by winning the Rabobank Trophy for a group of five Merinos.

Mianelup also came up trumps again winning the overall champion pairs with two of its best Marc- shorn Merino rams.

Derella stud won the Elders Expo Four Merino ram sash, a first for the Esperance stud.

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