Thirty-six, two-tooth Merino rams lined up in competition during the 71st Hay Sheep Show for the honor of claiming the Riverina Wool Australia Champion Hogget Merino ram of the year.
With nearly three hundred sheep penned, including 65 flock ewes, it was the biggest showing of Merino sheep in NSW this year.
A very strong contingent from some of the leading South Australian studs showed their class taking out all of the major prizes against strong competition from NSW and Victorian studs.
Leading the way was Paul and Darcy Meyer, Mulloorie, Brinkworth, SA, who showed the supreme champion ram or ewe, a four-tooth August-shorn medium wool, which was awarded the Bill Lamb Perpetual Trophy having already claimed the Bob and Anne Rollinson Perpetual Trophy, for grand champion ram.
Judge Andrew Calvert, Tasmania said the decision was difficult when deciding the ram over the grand champion ewe, but the ram was a 'worthy winner'.
"The ram is a very good sheep and carrying an extremely heavy cutting fleece," he said.
"He has a great lock and is exceptional underneath."
The four-tooth August-shorn medium wool ewe sashed as grand champion ewe was shown in the medium wool classes by Kevin Crook, Tamaleuca Poll Merino stud, Ouyen, Victoria, and was awarded The Family of Charles Mills Uardry Perpetual Trophy.
Judge Spike Orr, Gundarimbah, Parkes, thought the ewe was very well put together with a feminine outlook and great depth of body.
"She has a beautiful skin with a well nourished soft handling wool," Mr Orr said.
The Riverina Wool Australia Champion Hogget Merino Ram was awarded to the Collinsville stud, Burra, SA, while the entry from Blake Tremain-Cannon, Westray, Peak Hill, was awarded the NSW prize, and Paul Hendy, Belbourie, Marboo, was presented with the Victorian prize.
"The Collinsville ram was structurally correct with a good length of soft bright wool," Mr Orr said.
"He has a strong mussel and a beautiful skin."
Paul Hendy, Belbourie, Marnoo, Victoria, exhibited the Nutrien Ag Solutions Champion Hogget Merino Ewe.
"She is an outstanding ewe," judge Andrew Calvert said.
"She is structurally correct and with a great lock, her wool is very soft and deep crimped."
Repeating their 2022 success in the group classes, Paul and Darcy Meyer, Mulloorie, paraded the three rams and two ewes to win the Neilson Mills Memorial Trophy, along with the pen of three rams to take the Dick Circuitt Memorial Trophy.
The Collinsville stud, Burra, was awarded the Andrew Lockhart Memorial Trophy for most successful exhibitor.
Associate judges were Harry Agar, Caroonboon, Hay, and Angus Campbell, Yarrawonga, Harden, while Wal Merriman, Merryville, Boorowa, judged the August-shorn classes.
Stephen Huggins, Woodpark Poll, Hay, was the most successful exhibitor in the unhoused stud section taking home the Fox and Lillie special prize under judge Jason Southwell, Orange, and associate Sophie Baker.
Mr Huggins showed the champion unhoused ewe, winner of the Gavin Johnson Senior Memorial Prize, while the Yanco Agricultural High School, Yanco, exhibited the single unhoused ram.
Stephen Huggins, Woodpark Poll, Hay, was awarded the Pooginook Trophy for pen of five ewes with not more than two teeth.
"She is an outstanding ewe, her fleece is soft and well defined and she has a very feminine body," Mr Southwell said when complimenting the champion.
In a closely contested flock section under judge Jason Southwell and associate Sophie Baker, it was Jack Lawrence, Formosa, Hay, who exhibited the champion ewe hogget, and the champion pen of ewe hoggets.
But Ben Schilg, Piney Range, Walbundrie, exhibited the champion flock ewe taking home the Sandy Circuitt and Family Perpetual Trophy with his ewe successful in the four tooth class.
He also showed the pen of five four-tooth ewes and he won the Les Milliken Memorial Trophy for best two ewes and the Elders special prize for most successful exhibitor.
Emma Northey, Innisfail, Kikoira, exhibited the pen of five strong wool ewes, while the pen of five medium wool ewes were shown by Burrabogie, Hay.
The ewes from Burrabogie, owned by Australian Food and Agriculture at Hay won The Hay Merino Breeders' Inc pen of five Merino ewes.
Jason Southwell complimented all entries, when he said it had been a challenging but enjoyable time as judge.
"We worked hard to make our decisions," he said.
"We had different sheep from different areas before us and we judged them purely on their attributes and how they had been presented.
"The sheep were all of a very good type, with bright wool and long stapled.
"They are very productive ewes and that is what the industry is all about."
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