AFTER a grey and bleak start to the day last Monday it ended on a much brighter note for the Rintoul family, Auburn Valley Merino and Poll Merino stud, Williams, when one of their fleeces was announced as the supreme champion fleece of this year's IGA Perth Royal Show.
Like many wool growers this spring, the Rintouls had been fighting the rain week-in, week-out during shearing and Monday was yet another lost day for the operation which is passionate about wool.
But a phone call mid-afternoon from councillor in charge of wool Ken Walker to say one of their ram's fleeces had been sashed the supreme certainly changed the mood and eased frustrations with the weather.
The win marked the first time the family had taken out the major fleece award at the show after coming close on a couple of occasions since it started re-exhibiting six years ago.
In the 1980s and 1990s stud principals Peter and Jeffrey Rintoul exhibited in the Elders three fleece competition on occasions and prior to that their father Arnold and uncle Max and also their grandfather Henry James had exhibited wool at the show, making it a long-standing tradition for the family.
Stud co-principal Peter Rintoul was thrilled with the win and said while they had come close before, to take out the top award was a great honour.
"Wool is our business and we strive to produce a quality product so to be recognised in a competition like this is really rewarding," he said.
"Before the ram was shorn we received a lot of positive comments about his fleece so we are really pleased it tested well and has come up after shearing."
The Rintouls, who have previously exhibited the grand champion pair of fleeces (2012), grand champion ram fleece (2011) and reserve grand champion ram and reserve grand champion ewe or wether fleece (2010) at the show, this year had 22 fleeces in the competition.
There were five competition judges including Cameron Henry and Ben Silverman, Landmark, Tony Alosi, Elders, Graeme Luff, Primaries and chief judge Tim Chapman, Primaries.
Mr Chapman said the fleece was magnificent and well-grown with a tremendous greasy fleece weight.
"It is bright, white and very stylish and has everything you look for in a supreme champion fleece," Mr Chapman said.
"Along with being a great fleece visually it has a great set of measurements."
Overall the fleece scored 96 out of a total of 100 points and gained maximum points for soundness, length, evenness of fibre diameter, handle and colour.
The fleece came from the medium wool ram class and had measurements of 21.5 micron, 15.3 CV, 1.8 SD, 99.2 per cent comfort factor, 141mm staple length, 50N/kt staple strength, 72.8pc yield and a clean fleece weight of 7.5kg.
Mr Rintoul said the winning fleece was off a Poll Merino ram, which the stud had in the shed and which had competed on the WA show circuit.
The ram placed third in its medium wool class at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo, Victoria.
It was sired by Pooginook Gem, which the family had used in an AI program in 2010 and is a half brother to the ram which appeared on the front cover of this year's WA Merino magazine.
The stud already has lambs on the ground from the ram after using it in an AI program last year and Mr Rintoul said they were showing similar wool traits to their sire.
This year there were 183 entries from across the State received for the wool judging, which was slightly down on last year.
Mr Chapman said overall the standard of the competition was quite high but seasonal conditions had had an effect on the staple strength of many fleeces.
"Unfortunately some poor preparation was evident in many fleeces in regards to colour which can again be put down to seasonal conditions," he said.
p Check out next week's Farm Weekly for all the results from the first weekend of judging at the IGA Perth Royal Show.