THE lamb industry was the big winner from a decision to expand the Katanning prime lamb competition into a state-wide event.
A total of 53 entries totaling 106 lambs was received from as far as Esperance, York and Boyup Brook and judging on the hoof was a feast of sheer quality and a "pleasure to judge after last year" according to judge Brian Norsworthy, WAMMCO International's livestock manager.
Mr Norsworthy said the general presentation was excellent and in particular, the heavyweight lambs were outstanding.
This was reflected in a series of close scores that required the winners in both classes to be decided only after further consideration.
Despite a wide representation of breeds, Poll Dorset cross lambs dominated the hoof judging with experienced local breeder Peter Rundle, Katanning, involved with both the heavy and lightweight winning pairs.
Peter has been a long-time supporter and successful competitor in the competition and was chief steward for two years. He entered both Poll Dorset and Texet cross lambs but it was the Poll Dorset breeding that was successful.
Peter's mother June said they had been breeding prime lambs for a long time using Pine Avenue rams bred by Ron and Eric Wright at Kojonup and thought they were Pine Avenue's first client.
The hoof judging success came on top of another lamb success the previous day at the Katanning show where June accurately guessed the weight of three lambs in a competition held by Elders.
Peter's selection of lambs were among the first of 500 that will be turned off this spring mainly via weight and grade through the WAMMCO works.
Peter won the lightweight section for lambs weighing 36-42 kilograms with a score of 88 points.
Second was Kevin Powell, Dumbleyung, with lambs by Dumbledee sires bred by Keith Ladyman, Dumbleyung, and third was Ucarro Grazing, Katanning, owned by the Rundle family partnership.
All three placegetters finished with 88 out of a possible 90 points.
In the heavyweight section for lambs weighing 42-50kg Ucarro Grazing was declared the winner after finishing equal with Laurie Fairclough, Stockdale Poll Dorset stud, York, on 88 points.
Third was Tanya Hill, with Texel sired lambs from Corriedale and Border Leicester ewes.
Mr Norsworthy said general presentation had been excellent but some competitors had lost points because they had paired sheep with different fat scores. Several others had lost marks because crutching and stain removal had contravened industry guidelines and some lambs had been penalised because skins showed some ribbing.
Joint competition chief steward Keith Ladyman said the event was not about producing the heaviest lambs but a challenge to producers to hone skills in selecting sheep to meet target specifications both on the hoof and on the hook.
Judging had taken into account weight, condition score, preparation for sale, and uniformity of live weight and type. The lambs were scanned for eye muscle depth by Genstock and all information was available to competitors.
He said the aim was to build the competition and the information forum into a major event on the lamb industry calendar and this would be hastened if wool and meat continued in their respective directions.