FOR the first time in the history of the Australian Fleece Competition, a commercial fleece has succeeded stud competitors for the Grand Champion title.
After scoring an impressive 96.10 out of a possible 100 points, Paul and Margy Seaman, of Rosemont, Crookwell, NSW, won the prestigious award with a 17.7 micron superfine fleece.
“Fleeces of this calibre are not only pleasing to the eye, but also a processor’s delight” judge Andrew Jackson, United Wool Company, said.
Now in its 16th year, the event is the largest fully measured fleece competition in the world and this year recorded record entries with 481 entries.
The champion fleece was shorn off a wether in May and weighed six kilograms.
It excelled in the three facets of judging, recording 37.2 and 35.9 out of 38 for fleece weight and processing respectively and 23 out of 24 for visual assessment.
Mr Seaman said it was an honour to win the penultimate fleece event.
“As a breeder, this is the ultimate award,” he said.
“We have been exhibiting at Bendigo for over 10 years, with moderate success, including some divisional champions but we have had nothing like this before.
“Wool is the ultimate fabric and a labour of love for us, with a fantastic future due to diligent breeders and scientific research.”
Paul Seaman said it was Landmark stalwart, the late Kevin Coves, who had convinced the family to first exhibit their fleeces at Dubbo 25 years ago.
“He would be over the moon about this win,” he said.
Reserve champion went to the Russell family from Melrose Merino Stud, Nurrabiel, Victoria, with a fine Merino entry which scored 96, a mere .10 behind the grand champion.
HM Barty & Sons, Beverley Merino Stud, Redesdale, Victoria, continued their successful history by winning the most successful stud exhibitor trophy.
The Global Dohne Conference feature attracted 40 fleeces to the competition. The Champion Dohne fleece award was taken out by Margie Pye, Caroonboon, Wanganella, NSW.
Reserve Champion was awarded to Richard Beggs, Nareeb Nareeb Dohne Stud, Glenthompson, Victoria.
The Performance Class, which caters for exhibitors shearing in six to eight-month cycles commercially, champion and reserve champion was won by Avenel Merino Stud, Wanganella, NSW.
The competition is a joint effort by Australian Wool Testing Authority Australia, Australian Sheep Breeders Association and Landmark.
Almost two thirds of the fleeces on show were donated by exhibitors for auction, with all proceeds donated to Diabetes Australia, which coincides with National Diabetes week.