Show win fit for a prince

Headshot of Bob Garnant
Bob GarnantThe West Australian

WA Merino Week, held last week throughout the Great Southern region, championed a newcomer to the ranks of the supreme titleholders among the State's Merino breeders.

Ever since he could remember, Clinton Blight had dreamed of making it count, especially when it came to sheep breeding.

Winning his first supreme exhibit at last week's Rabobank Katanning Sheep Show and Sale cemented the 25-year-old's ambition to improve on the breed's dual-purpose qualities.

His Seymour Park Poll Merino ram, George, named in honour of the new royal prince, was poked and prodded with high admiration by judges throughout the year, from Wagin Woolorama to Williams, Bendigo, Katanning and now Dubbo this week to proudly represent WA.

"George was fairly well prepared to show and travel to exhibit his exceptional fleece and genetic qualities," Clinton said.

"I think Poll Merinos are out in front of the industry."

Clinton, who was raised on his family's mixed livestock and cropping farm at Highbury, plans to use his stud experience to increase profitability through wool and meat production.

"Merinos are well placed to be the sheep of choice when you are talking about dual income," he said.

During the week-long field days show and sale, Merino breeders were talking up the season with good July and August rains setting things up for a hopeful and well- deserved good finish.

When _Countryman _ travelled to the various venues, bright yellow canola fields were in full contrast to rich green pastures and crops, with dam-water levels starting to shake the hand of thirst.

Stud breeders were quietly confident a better season was in store and a steady flow of commercial producers were out and about inspecting the new crop of battery sires.

Southern Districts Stud Merino Field Days president Luke Ledwith said the three-day field day program was very successful and had attracted a good flow of visitors.

"The Merino and its Poll counterpart were once again held in high regard as a very profitable meat and wool package," Mr Ledwith said.

Two rams equalled the $7000 top-price at the Rabobank Stud Ram Sale. East Mundalla and Coromandel studs were both pleased to reach top money after a record-dry June brought a drop in confidence to many of WA's sheep producers.

Overall, this year's sale, which offered 28 rams, sold 21 rams for an average price of $4000, compared with last year when 20 sold to a top of $17,000 and an average price of $7300.

Gaining most points of the show was the King family, of Rangeview stud, Darkan, who exhibited their first Katanning overall grand champion, a Poll Merino ram.

Willemenup stud also had a first win with the Rabobank Group of Five.

The broad ribbons were well spread throughout the show, demonstrating the depth of quality among the State's participants.

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