Numbers off but quality holds high

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Bob GarnantCountryman

Quality-bred animals from the sheep shed at the Perth Royal Show put no less than four exhibitors in the points running for the prestigious Governor's Cup.

The shining light came from the Squiers family, of Shirlee Downs stud, Quairading, which topped the point tally and shared the Cup trophy with the Kitchen family, of Elgin, who exhibited beef cattle at the Show.

Councillor in charge of sheep and prime lambs Peter Gelmi said lower prices producers were receiving for their lambs had a flow-on effect on the overall numbers of sheep exhibited.

Total sheep numbers of 768 from 13 breeds - Border Leicester, Suffolk, South Suffolk, Shropshire, Wiltshire Horn, Wiltipoll, Corriedale, Dorper and White Dorper, Prime Samm, Texel, White Suffolk and Merino - were down by 137 head on last year when 905 sheep were shown on the back of a better season.

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Celebrating 50 years of the breed in WA, the Poll Dorset was the feature breed of the Show.

There were 210 Poll Dorsets on show with up to 23 sheep in some ram classes.

This year's total showing included 160 Merino and Poll Merinos, down from 190 last year.

Mr Gelmi said the lower sheep numbers exhibited were more within the major sheep breeds, while some of the non-major breed numbers rose to the occasion.

He said auction prices of stud sheep and prime lamb carcases were also affected by lower lamb prices and the ongoing live export restrictions but there were still encouraging signs of contentment from within the Jim Horwood Pavilion.

"Producers expressed their concern about the drop in lamb prices and the ongoing live export issues but they all seem to maintain good spirits about the show being one of the best places to promote their industry," Mr Gelmi said.

"Many have sheep to market and the feeling from breeders is that more planning by all parties involved is required in order to avoid interruptions within the entire sheep trade."

Mr Gelmi said quality was well represented at the prime lamb auction when butchers from the Perth area said the carcases were of very even quality.

"They found that there was very little difference between the champion and non-champion carcases," he said.

Although the stud ram and ewe sale had many sheep passed in at auction, Mr Gelmi said the top sheep sold vey well.

"Buyers picked the eyes out of the quality on offer," he said.

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