By TRAVIS KING
WOOL A TOP line-up of fleeces in this year’s Make Smoking History Wagin Woolorama wool section had the judges working hard to come up with their overall winner. The depth of quality in this year’s event, which saw 130 fleeces entered from 115 entrants, deserved even more credit than normal given the tough season most growers had experienced in 2018 with a later than usual start. The overall winning fleece wasn’t just fine on the day, it was grand when the champion fine wool fleece exhibited by the Rintoul family, Tilba Tilba stud, Williams, was announced the grand champion fleece of the event.
The Tilba Tilba fleece was off a show ewe that had performed well at sheep shows across the State in 2018, prior to been shorn. The ewe, from the stud’s dark blue family, was sashed the reserve grand champion Merino ewe and champion fine wool ewe at the IGA Perth Royal Show last year. It was also sashed the champion fine wool Merino ewe at the Rabobank WA Sheep Show in August 2018 and at the 2018 Make Smoking History Williams Gateway Expo.
The fleece scored 94 out of 100 points in the judging, with it achieving 19 out of 20 for style and wool type, 13 out of 14 for handle, nine out of 10 for colour of bloom, 13 out of 14 for length, 16 out of 16 for soundness, nine out of 10 for evenness and 15 out of 16 for density. At the Perth Royal last year, the ewe’s fleece tested 17 micron, 3.2 SD, 18.8 CV and 100 per cent comfort factor.
One of the wool judges, Tim Chapman, Primaries Wool, said the grand champion fleece showed outstanding style and was even throughout. “It was soft-handling and very sound with good colour,” Mr Chapman said. Mr Chapman said the overall quality of the fleeces exhibited this year were a credit to growers. “It was a tough job to pick the champions this year, the fleeces at the top end were so even,” he said. “Any fleeces that achieved over 89 points were all excellent fleeces and would have all been deserving winners. “It is a credit to all exhibitors with the season we have been through and I thought it was an outstanding line-up in general.”
The Rintoul family capped off a top wool showing by also claiming the ribbon for champion strong wool fleece of the show, this time with a ram’s fleece from their Dongiemon stud. The fleece was off a sire that came from the Dongiemon grey family. It achieved 86 points out of 100 in the judging, recording 15 out of 20 for character, 12 out of 14 for handle, 10 out of 10 for colour of bloom, 12 out of 14 for length, 16 out of 16 for soundness, eight out of 10 for evenness and 13 out of 16 for density.
The superfine fleece class saw the end of an era for the Woolorama wool section, with long-time exhibitors Russell and Heather Meaton, Misty Hills stud, Kojonup, exhibiting for the last time. With their property and stud sold earlier this year, these regular supporters of wool competitions across WA finished on a high by claiming the champion superfine fleece ribbon.
Over their fleece-showing career at Woolorama the Meatons have taken home the grand exhibit title seven times, no mean feat for any stud and a testament to the quality of wools produced within the Misty Hills flock. Heather Meaton said while it was a “bit sad” to be showing for the last time at Wagin, they were proud of their efforts over the years and loved producing quality wools. The winning superfine fleece scored 19 out of 20 for character, 12 out of 14 for handle, 10 out of 10 for colour of bloom, 12 out of 14 for length, 16 out of 16 for soundness, nine out of 10 for evenness and 15 out of 16 for density.
Misty Hills (Heather & Russell pictured) also exhibited the champion pair of fleeces in the stud section. Rounding out the stud champion ribbons was a medium wool fleece exhibited by the Blight family, Seymour Park stud, Highbury. This fleece was off a stud show ewe that was sashed the champion fine-medium wool Poll Merino ewe at last year’s Rabobank WA Sheep Show. At the time of that show the ewe’s wool tested at 19.9 micron, 2.7 SD, 13.6 CV and 99.8pc CF. The ewe was sired by Seymour Park 908 and its fleece was awarded 91 points in total, with 18 out of 20 for character, 13 out of 14 for handle, nine out of 10 for colour of bloom, 13 out of 14 for length, 16 out of 16 for soundness, seven out of 10 for evenness and 15 out of 16 for density.
In the commercial section and the overall champion farmers fleece ribbon was awarded to a fleece exhibited by the WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin. This was awarded to its champion superfine fleece, non-stud, which finished on 86 points. It was a good show in the wool section for the College, with it also taking home the champion ribbon for the fine wool fleece, non-stud section, which amassed 83 points. Both fleeces were off wethers. A fleece exhibited by Peter Cumming, Wagin, finished on top in the medium section amassing 84 points out of 100. This made it two years in a row that Mr Cumming had taken out the champion medium wool class in the non-stud category. Mr Cumming runs all Merinos within his farming operation and said he entered the Woolorama fleece competition to support the community event. “I also love producing wool and can’t get enough of it,” Mr Cumming said. “I aim to produce an elite quality wool within our commercial flock and it is good to benchmark our wool against fleeces from across all areas of the State.” The champion strong wool fleece, non-stud, was exhibited by another regular exhibitor in the competition, Peter Horne, Woodanilling, with a ewe fleece that scored 79 points. Mr Horne exhibited 17 fleeces in total at the show and finished up exhibiting the champion pair of fleeces, non-stud and also accrued the most points in the wool section.