WA MERINO breeders were out in force at the recent Australian Sheep & Wool Show in Bendigo, Victoria, and they continued to show the State is home to some of the best Merino breeding programs in Australia.
In the three-day show WA breeders again showed the rest of the country the quality of Merinos and Poll Merinos being bred in WA is second to none.
By the end of the show, which attracted just under 800 Merino and Poll Merino exhibits from all States, the WA team of 64 Merinos and Poll Merinos from 20 studs collected a swag of ribbons, including 25 broad ribbons.
Throughout the showing the WA entries received plenty of praise from judges, resulting in a number of the top awards heading to WA including the top Poll Merino ram award plus three of the six top grand champion ram awards.
But there wasn't only praise from the judges, there was also plenty of interest from Eastern States breeders looking to source new genetics.
Leading the WA list of winners were a medium wool Poll Merino ram and ewe from the Campbell family's Coromandel stud, Gairdner.
Not only did the ram and ewe stand up well in their own right in the judging ring winning a number of champion ribbons, they combined even better and were WA's team in the National Pair competition and were announced as the runner-up.
After some back and forth between the judges in the National Pair's judging on Friday night, the Coromandel pairing had to settle for the reserve position behind a Merino pair exhibited by the Eilan Donan stud, Metcalfe, Victoria, which were announced the winners by the judges.
Superfine wool judge Ron Small, Blairich stud, Blenheim, New Zealand, said while the Coromandel pairing were a great Poll Merino pair, it was a unanimous decision to place the superfine Eilan Donan team in the top position.
"The Coromandel ram and ewes are beautiful big, square sheep with plenty of wool but it was just the wool quality and wool coverage of the superfine team that we couldn't go against," Mr Small said.
"The quality of the wool and quantity of it doesn't vary from top to bottom and they both have really impressive underlines and that was what got them over the line."
When it came to their individual classes and handing out the broad championships ribbons, the judges found it hard to go against the Coromandel ram and ewe.
Of the pairing the ewe stood the tallest and went one step further than the ram and was sashed the grand champion medium wool ewe of show.
When the ewe received its grand champion ribbon medium wool, Merino judge Richard Chalker, Lach River stud, Darbys Fall, New South Wales, said it was a structurally very correct ewe with a great outlook.
"She has a pure muzzle, a great lock structure and a top white wool," Mr Chalker said.
"She was very hard to go past and was a clear winner.
"There is not much wrong with her."
Prior to being sashed the grand champion medium wool ewe, the upstanding six-tooth ewe was also sashed the champion medium wool Poll Merino ewe and champion August shorn medium wool Poll Merino ewe and won its class ahead of seven other ewes.
In these earlier stages medium wool Poll Merino judge Elliot Richardson, Mianelup stud, Gnowangerup, described the ewe as long, tall and very square with good bone.
"Not only is she a big, upstanding ewe with great structure, she is also carrying a long-stapled, rich medium wool," Mr Richardson said.
The ET-bred ewe is by Yarrawonga 961 and out of an ET-bred Coromandel ewe sired by Rhamily Benny and carried wool figures of 19.4 micron, 3.0 SD, 15.5 CV and 99.4 per cent comfort factor in the ring.
The ewe is no stranger to accolades - at the Make Smoking History Wagin Woolorama this year it was sashed the champion medium wool Poll Merino ewe.
When it came to their ram the Campbell family had to settle for the reserve grand champion medium wool ram ribbon after it was beaten to the top award in the medium wool ram classes by a Merino ram from the North Ashrose stud, Gulnare, South Australia.
Prior to going up against the North Ashrose sire, the well put together Coromandel ram was sashed the champion medium wool Poll Merino ram and champion August shorn medium wool Poll Merino ram.
When receiving these ribbons Mr Richardson said the Coromandel ram was a very productive sheep.
"He is an uncomplicated ram with good structure and wool cut," Mr Richardson said.
"He is big boned, square and has a great behind, plus he is very pure and has a big sirey head."
The ram, which was the supreme Merino exhibit at this year's Make Smoking History Wagin Woolorama and Make Smoking History Williams Gateway Expo, earned its right to compete in the championship judging after winning its initial class for August shorn medium wool Poll Merino rams showing six or more permanent teeth.
The ET-bred, which by Glenlea Park 881 and out of Coromandel 6, that is a Moorundie Geoffrey daughter, had carried wool tests of 22.5 micron, 3.5 SD, 15.6 CV and 97.3pc CF.
The Coromandel stud topped off its excellent showing claiming first place in the class for a group of three Poll Merinos (one ram and two ewes) ahead of nine other teams.
When they received the award Mr Richardson said they were three very good sheep.
"They are a nice even group and all three are big productive Poll Merinos," he said.
The Ledwith family's Kolindale stud, Dudinin, made the trip across to the show with two rams - one Poll Merino and one Merino - and both walked away with major awards.
In the judging their big, upstanding Poll Merino sire collected the top Poll Merino ram award when it was sashed the grand champion Poll Merino ram.
At this point Mr Richardson said it was a unanimous decision to give the grand champion ribbon to the massive Kolindale sire.
"He is a big, square ram with nice bone, a big barrel and large backend," Mr Richardson said.
"He also has a good head and is carrying a large amount of white, crimpy wool."
The ram started on its run to the top when it won its class for strong wool Poll rams showing six or more permanent teeth.
From there it went on to be sashed the champion August shorn strong wool Poll Merino ram and champion strong wool Poll Merino ram.
At this point strong wool judge Peter Hacker, Roselea stud, Muckadilla, Queensland, said the ram was a long, deep-bodied sire with a great outlook, good bone, a beautiful barrel and a big back-end.
"Along with his size and structure he is also carries a rich, sirey strong wool all over and is well-finished on the points," he said.
"He is a massive sheep with a tonne of wool."
The ram, which is no stranger to broad ribbons after being sashed the reserve grand champion Poll Merino ram at this year's Williams Gateway Expo, is by Terrick West 3381 and out of Collinsville Majestic daughter.
In the ring the 169 kilogram ram carried wool figures of 21.8 micron, 4.0 SD, 18.3 CV and 98.3pc CF.
When it came to the ribbon for the grand champion strong wool ram, the massive polled ram had to settle for reserve behind a Merino sire from Kolindale, which earned plenty of praise from the judges as well for its size and wool quality.
The 156kg Kolindale Merino sire started on its winning ways when it stood at the head of its line-up for August shorn strong wool Merino rams showing no more than four permanent teeth.
From there it went on to be sashed the champion August shorn strong wool Merino ram and champion strong wool Merino ram before finally receiving the grand champion strong wool ram ribbon in front of its Poll stablemate.
When sashing the Kolindale Merino ram Mr Hacker said it was an extremely well-balanced sheep with a magnificent fleece.
"He is a big, robust ram with a great outlook and good bone," Mr Hacker said.
"In terms of his wool it is a beautiful, rich strong wool.
"He is also very even in his wool wool from his top right down to his belly and legs.
"He is going to be a real heavy cutter and is a near faultless ram."
In the ring the Kolindale 5 sired ram carried wool figures of 21.8 micron, 3.2 SD, 14.7 CV and 99.2pc CF.
The Jackson family's Westerdale stud, McAlinden, also added to the team's success with its fine wool Poll Merino ram collecting a swag of broad ribbons, with its highest award being reserve grand champion fine wool ram.
Prior to receiving this ribbon the six-tooth sire was sashed the champion fine wool Poll Merino ram and champion August shorn fine wool Poll Merino ram.
Fine wool judge Bruce Dunbabin, Mayfield stud, Swansea, Tasmania, said the Westerdale sire was a great fine wool ram carrying a power of wool right down its back flanks and it also has a super belly.
"He carries a top quality fine wool all over from his back to the floor and is a true fine wool," Mr Dunbabin said.
"Not only is he a wool machine, he also stands up well and is structurally sound.
"I really do like him as a sire."
The six-tooth ram is no stranger to broad ribbons as it was the reserve grand champion Poll Merino ram at this year's Wagin Woolorama.
The ram which is from the stud's Coromandel family has current wool figures of 20.2 micron, 2.6 SD, 12.9 CV and 99.8pc CF.
Also standing up in the Poll Merino classes for the WA team was fine/medium wool Poll Merino ram from the Mullan family's Quailerup West stud, Wickepin, when it was sashed the reserve grand champion fine/medium wool ram behind an outstanding sire from the Glenpaen stud, Brimpaen, Victoria.
The Quailerup West ram played second fiddle to the Glenpaen sire from their opening class for August shorn, fine/medium Poll Merino rams showing six or more permanent teeth where they placed in the top two positions ahead of 11 other rams.
It then took home the reserve champion August shorn fine/medium wool Poll Merino ram and champion fine/medium wool Poll Merino ram ribbons, behind the Glenpaen sire.
Fine/medium wool judge Sydney Lawrie, Collandra North stud, Tumby Bay, South Australia, said the Quailerup West ram had a stylish white wool all over, but it was just not as good on the points as the Glenpaen champion, which is a beautiful sirey animal.
"However the Qualierup West ram does have a good carcase, with plenty of depth and length of body and a big barrel, while he is well-covered all over in a white bright wool," Mr Lawrie said.
"He also has a beautiful sirey head, brilliant balance and a great constitution."
The Quailerup West ram, which already has lambs on the ground after being used last mating is by a Leovale ram and has current wool figures of 19.0 micron, 3.1 SD, 16.3 CV and 99.5pc CF.
The Blight family's Seymour Park stud, Highbury, also tasted success in the Poll Merino classes when it exhibited the reserve champion March shorn fine/medium wool Poll Merino ram.
The ram, which is still carrying its lambs teeth, earned the right to compete for a champion ribbon after winning its class for March shorn, fine/medium wool Poll Merino rams showing no permanent teeth infront of 10 other rams.
When it received its reserve champion ribbon Mr Lawrie said the Seymour Park sire was beautiful through the twist, had a good white, pure muzzle and its wool was white and bright and showed excellent staple length.
The May 2018-drop ram is by Seymour Park 68 and has current wool figures of 19.3 micron, 2.7 SD, 14.0 CV and 99.9pc CF.
Standing tall in the Merino classes for WA were two March shorn exhibits from the Barloo stud, Gnowangerup and the Darijon stud, Highbury.
For the House family's Barloo stud it was a strong wool Merino ram that caught the eye of strong wool judge Peter Hacker in its opening class for March shorn, strong wool Merino rams showing not more than two permanent teeth.
It placed first in this class in front of nine other rams before Mr Hacker then decided to sash it the champion March shorn strong wool Merino ram of the show.
Mr Hacker said the Barloo ram was a top young sire which will make an impact in the future.
"He has a good sirey outlook, a good barrel and bone and a long body," Mr Hacker said.
"When it comes to his wool he has a tremendous surface which just invites you in to open up his wool."
The young ram, which has current wool figures of 22.3 micron, 3.5 SD, 15.7 CV and 99.0pc CF, is by Barloo Impact 414.
Impact 414 was sashed the reserve champion strong wool Merino ram at last year's Australian Sheep & Wool Show, before being sold to the East Mundalla stud, Tarin Rock, for $22,500 at last year's Rabobank WA Sheep Expo & Sale at Katanning.
The Darijon stud rounded out the winners for WA when a two-tooth Merino ewe from the stud was sashed the champion March shorn medium wool ewe and reserve junior champion medium wool ewe.
Mr Chalker said the Darijon ewe was a very good sheep which would grow into a very big and productive ewe.
"She has very good thick lock, a good long neck extension and is well-structured," he said.
"She is a great young ewe."
The Darijon ewe was in the championships after winning its class for March shorn medium wool ewes showing no more than two permanent teeth ahead of seven other entries.
The ewe, which is by an East Mundalla sire, carried wool figures of 18.9 micron, 3.4 SD, 18.0 CV and 99.8pc CF into the ring.
Despite collecting a swag of ribbons the top awards in the show eluded WA breeders again this year when the Miller family's Glenpaen stud, exhibited the supreme exhibit after it had a clean sweep taking home both the grand champion ram and grand champion ewe ribbons.
The broad supreme ribbon was awarded to Glenpaen's grand champion ram and when it received the ribbon ultrafine judge John Croake, Australian Wool Network, Tamworth, NSW, said it was not a unanimous decision and it was very close between the two.
"The ram is very sweet in the wool with plenty of whiteness and brightness in the wool all over and has a magnificent staple," Mr Croake said.
"To go with this he is also stands up very square and shows great sire potential.
"The ewe is also outstanding, she is as good as you will see anywhere.
"She will be an enormous cutter and she has a brilliant underline.
"They are both terrific examples of the breed and a credit to the Miller family."
Prior to being sashed the supreme exhibit and grand champion ram, the four-tooth Glenpaen sire was sashed the grand champion fine wool ram ahead of Westerdale's Poll Merino sire.
It was also sashed the champion fine wool Merino ram and champion August shorn fine wool Merino ram.
Mr Dunbabin said when they decided on the Glenpaen ram for the grand champion ram exhibit, it was an easy decision as it was a terrific line-up of rams.
"He is clean and pure on the points and has a really good shafty wool with great staple length that is coming off the skin really well," Mr Dunbabin said.
The four-tooth ram, which is by homebred sire Glenpaen Magic, has current wool figures of 17.5 micron, 2.5 SD, 14.3 CV and 100pc CF.
The grand champion ewe from Glenpaen was a fine/medium wool exhibit from its Poll stud, prior to being sashed the grand champion ewe it collected the grand champion fine/medium wool ewe, champion fine/medium wool Poll Merino ewe and champion August shorn fine/medium wool Poll Merino ewe.
Mr Lawrie said it was also very close in the grand champion ewe line-up but in the end they went for the Glenpaen six-tooth ewe.
"She is a magnificent ewe and she was a pleasure to judge all day," he said.
"She has a beautiful barrel, a soft muzzle and plenty of staple length and it was this extra bit of bright, white staple that got her over the line."
The AI-bred ewe has a WA connection in its bloodline as it is out of ewe which carries East Strathglen Duke bloodlines, while it is sired by Willandra GP.
It has current wool figures of 19.2 micron, 2.8 SD, 14.6 CV and 99.8pc CF.
Mr Miller said he arrived at the show knowing he had a handy team but didn't expect the triumph that unfolded over the next two days.
"It's something I've been dreaming about for a long time," he said.
The Millers aim is to breed big, growthy, easy-care sheep that cut plenty of wool.
"In our environment the wool has got to be white and waxy and put up with high rainfall, too," Mr Miller said.
"We are up against the Grampian mountains and we get a lot of showers and wet days when the sheep don't dry out so our wool has to be bright and waxy."