WA sheep shine at Bendigo

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Bob GarnantCountryman
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WA sheep performed brilliantly last week at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show at Bendigo.

In the mix of the State’s best performing studs, the Hogg family, of Navanvale stud, Williams, claimed the National Pairs (Merino) championship title for the first time while the Veitch family, of Kaya Dorper stud, Narrogin, continued its recent supremacy run.

With origins dating back to the first show in 1878, last week’s 139th continuous rendezvous is now considered to be the biggest event of its kind in the world.

Australian Sheep and Wool Show president Malcolm Starritt said this year there were more than 3000 sheep entries, an all-time record.

“The internationally significant event is Australia’s epicentre to showcase the best of the best in food and fibre innovation,” he said.

“Our audience (30,000 visitors) is also diversifying, with increased interest in what our food providers and fibre fashion experts are offering.”

With the fibre spotlight on Merino wool, highlights from the event’s Australian Fleece Competition produced a history-making first when a commercial fleece entry, from NSW woolgrowers Paul and Margy Seaman, took out the grand champion fleece title.

Never before in the competition’s 16-year history has a non-stud entry won this prestigious prize.

From the National Woolcraft Competition, Jackie Newman, of Lang Lang, Victoria, had the most outstanding entry with her machine-knitted dress which featured bell sleeves and hand-crocheted gum leaves and gum nuts, as seen on the event’s Facebook site.

Keen to share in the progression of the Bendigo show, a contingent of WA sheep studs participated this year.

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On return to Williams, Navanvale stud principal Chris Hogg said it was his family’s first pairs victory at Bendigo, after qualifying three times with wins at Wagin Woolorama (Countryman Cup) over the past three consecutive years — the third time a charm.

“We competed against five other pairs (representing South Australia, Victoria, NSW, Queensland, Tasmania and WA) and the judges liked the matched pair of our medium wool Merino ram and ewe, both having beautiful white wool evenly spread and in abundance,” Mr Hogg said.

The Navanvale ram was sired by Navanvale Wally and measured 21.9 microns and the ewe was sired by Roseville Park 46 and measured 19.4 microns and both had a comfort factor of 99.5 per cent.

Earlier this year, the Navanvale ram was judged reserve grand champion Merino ram at the 2016 Wagin Woolorama and went on to be judged supreme exhibit at the 2016 Williams Gateway Expo.

In the individual judging classes at Bendigo, Mr Hogg said both ram and ewe won their individual classes, but were pipped during the championship judging.

“Bendigo is the place to compare our sheep to the country’s best and it is the place to network, particularly for studs who are searching for top sires to breed with and there is plenty of semen sale business taking place,” Mr Hogg said.

Also performing at the top level in the Merino judging at Bendigo, the Gooding family, of East Mundalla stud, Tarin Rock, showed through for the West and were awarded the junior champion sash for their strong wool Merino ram.

Sired by East Mundalla Jonty, which was the supreme ram at the 2011 Australian Sheep and Wool Show, the ram bred true to its sire as the judges admired its overall quality.

Overall, WA Merino and Poll Merino sheep (45 in total) which participated at the national show will bring back a swag of ribbons.

On the meat sheep side of the Bendigo showcase, WA was well placed with supreme wins from the Veitch family’s Kaya Dorper and White Dorper stud, of Narrogin.

Adrian Veitch said it was his family’s best showing after competing at Bendigo over the past three years.

“We had a total of 10 sheep in the Dorper and White Dorper classes and won eight first-place titles with rams going on to win both junior champion and senior champion titles in both breeds before taking out the grand champion and top supreme titles, although the judge split the Dorper supreme award with us and another stud, which also shared jointly in the award with its grand champion ewe,” he said.

“The Dorper breeds are going well and performing well in extensive country, particularly in NSW.

“Graziers like the no-fuss, non-shearing Dorper as the breed is easy to manage and the sheep are hardy doers.

“We sold four rams and one ewe to wrap up a very successful trip.”

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