A WA produced Seymour Park fleece wins WA Champion award at the Australian Fleece Competition in Bendigo

Headshot of Bob Garnant
Bob GarnantCountryman
With the highest awarded WA fleece are Seymour Park stud co-principal Clinton Blight, of Highbury, and Elders stud stock agent Nathan King.
Camera IconWith the highest awarded WA fleece are Seymour Park stud co-principal Clinton Blight, of Highbury, and Elders stud stock agent Nathan King. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

A medium wool fleece from a WA bred Poll Merino ram, exhibited by Seymour Park stud in Highbury, was sashed the WA Champion Fleece at the Australian Fleece Competition in Bendigo, Victoria.

In its 21st year, the Australian Fleece Competition held in conjunction with the Australian Sheep and Wool Show from July 15 to 17 is promoted as the biggest fully measured fleece competition in the world, and attracted 345 entries from 130 exhibitors.

Seymour Park stud co-principal Clinton Blight of Highbury, said his WA Champion Fleece exhibit place first in the medium class 20 (stud ram) and measured 21 micron and scored 89.48 points out of 100, and was shorn from a ram sired by Seymour Park 68.

WA’s best fleece measured 16.6 coefficient of variation, 99.5 comfort factor, 127mm staple length, 11.9kg greasy fleece weight, 72.1 per cent yield and a fleece value of $118.

The Blights entered five fleeces that won two first place awards and three second place awards.

Their fine to medium wool fleece entry, with a measurement of 19.9 micron and a score of 80.83 points, placed first in class 17 (stud ram).

“It was the best we have ever done at the show,” Mr Blight said.

“We were very happy with our entries and it shows how we are getting more consistent with our wool.”

Mr Blight said he had lots of inquiries from other studs.

Also back showing fleeces at Bendigo, the Rintoul family, of Tilba Tilba stud in Williams had a spread of place getters.

Their best was a fifth place in the fine Merino class 17 (ewe or wether) with an 18.8 micron fleece that scored 81.67 points and had a fleece value of $106.

Mt Challicum Merino stud principals Phil and Kim Hartwich, of Victoria, took out the Grand Champion Fleece title. with an extra superfine Merino fleece.

This fleece measured 17.2 micron and scored 97.43 out of a possible 100 points.

This is the second Grand Champion title awarded to Mt Challicum.

The Merino stud previously won in 2014, and to top off their achievements the Hartwich family also received the 2022 Most Successful Stud Exhibitor trophy.

The judges for the competition included Modiano Australia senior buyer Lou Morsh and Nutrien - Arcadian Wool managing director Ian Shawcross, of Geelong, Victoria.

“Favorable growing conditions in most areas, along with good breeding and management practices have produced an excellent quality show this year,” Mr Shawcross said.

Exporter judge Mr Morsh said the majority of the fleeces in the Merino section showed all traits of the modern Merino — well nourished, heavy cutting wool with a long staple and deep crimp.

He also endorsed the competition’s judging criteria,

“The visual traits of the fleeces were very even, separating them on that alone would have been very difficult this year,” Mr Morsh said.

The competition is a joint effort by the Australian Sheep Breeders Association, the Australian Wool Testing Authority and Nutrien Ag Solutions.

Almost 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.

Since its inception, more than $190,000 has been raised for important causes.

This year the nominated charity was Lifeline, which provides support for people experiencing emotional distress.

All competition fleeces were weighed and sampled for objective measurement (including length and strength), under standard procedures of the Australian Wool Testing Authority.

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