THIS year will not only go down in history as the year the COVID-19 pandemic caused chaos around the world, but also the first time the Mullan family, Eastville Park stud, Wickepin, claimed a supreme title at the WA Sheep Expo & Ram Sale.
COVID-19 in 2020 has caused the cancellation of most events across the globe from the Olympics to country shows, but through the determination of the Great Southern Merino Sheepbreeders' Association committee, this year's WA Sheep Expo & Ram Sale at Katanning wasn't one of them.
With a lack of opportunities to show and display sheep this year, WA Merino breeders supported the event in force with 40 studs displaying 500 Merinos and Poll Merinos, while in the showring there were record entries.
Among the shed full of highly productive Merino and Poll Merino exhibits, was Eastville Park's upstanding Poll sire, Billy, that caught the eye of the judges claiming the prestigious, purple supreme ribbon.
The win continued the family's success of claiming supreme titles in WA, having won the supreme award at the 2018 and 2019 Perth Royal Shows.
The ram which showed plenty of size and wool cutting ability caught the attention of the judges early before going on to be sashed the supreme exhibit ahead of 266 entries from 29 studs.
After Billy was announced the supreme exhibit judge Quentin Davies, Cardiff stud, Yorkrakine, said it wasn't an easy decision for the top award as all four sheep in the line-up were great examples of the Merino breed.
However in the end they couldn't ignore the Eastville Park sire as it stood up extremely well and was really hard to fault.
"The Eastville Park ram is really well structured and has fantastic character in its fleece, which he carries all over," Mr Davies said.
"He is a really good producer and is going to cut a lot of wool.
"He is also very pure through the head and muzzle.
"He is a ram that is going to have an influence on the breed in the future."
Fellow judge Scott Button, Manunda stud, Tammin, said the Eastville Park ram was as close to correct as you could get.
"He is a large upstanding ram with limited faults," Mr Button said.
"In addition to his size and structure, he is also carrying a long-stapled, crimpy, bulky fleece."
Standing along with Eastville Park Billy in the final line-up for the supreme ribbon were a young well-balanced, March shorn Merino ram from the Wililoo stud, Woodanilling plus two upstanding ewes from the Coromandel stud, Gairdner, an August shorn and a March shorn.
Before being sashed the supreme exhibit, Billy, made it through the early judging to be sashed the grand champion August shorn ram.
Judge Darren Chapman, Beaufort Vale stud, Boyup Brook, said at this stage the Eastville Park ram was a very complete sheep.
"He has a good body and is very sound throughout in both his wool and structure," Mr Chapman said.
"He is a meat and wool package."
Eastville Park Billy's run to the top started when it was sashed the champion August shorn medium wool Poll Merino ram in its opening class in front of nine other entries.
The four-tooth, 154 kilogram ram is by the stud's 2018 Perth Royal Show supreme exhibit, Eastville Park Axle 602 and has current wool figures of 22.2 micron and 98.1 per cent comfort factor.
In its last showing at the Make Smoking History Wagin Woolorama in March the ram was sashed the reserve champion strong wool Poll Merino ram.
As in the August shorn rams it was another Poll Merino exhibit that rose to the top and claimed the highest award in the August shorn ewe classes - the grand champion August shorn ewe award.
This time it was an impressive medium wool ewe, which had already racked up an impressive resume of awards in the past 12 months, from the Campbell family's Coromandel stud that caught the judges' eyes and was sashed the grand champion.
When the upstanding ewe was sashed the grand champion August shorn ewe, Mr Button said it was a nice, big upstanding ewe which was beautifully finished.
"She is structurally very sound and well-balanced," Mr Button said.
"In addition to this she is carrying a long-stapled, white, crimpy, bulky fleece which is consistent in character and style right through."
Before being sashed the grand champion August shorn ewe, the ewe was sashed the champion August shorn medium wool Poll Merino ewe in front of eight others.
At this point Mr Davies said the ewe was really well-grown and well-covered.
"She is a very square ewe and has really white and bright free-growing wool," he said.
The ET-bred ewe is by Glenlea Park 881 and has current wool figures of 19.7 micron, 3.1 SD, 15.7 CV and 99.8pc CF.
The ewe is no stranger to broad ribbons - at last year's Expo it was sashed the grand champion March shorn ewe, while at this year's Make Smoking History Wagin Woolorama it received the grand champion Poll Merino ewe award.
Taking home the reserve grand champion August shorn ram ribbon and standing in reserve to the Eastville Park sire in the grand championship judging was a medium wool Merino ram from the Norrish family's Angenup stud, Kojonup.
Mr Davies said the Angenup ram was a beautiful, heavy cutting wool sheep.
"He is a rich woolled ram and structurally he is very sound," Mr Davies said.
"He has a good frame and stands up nice and square."
Before standing in the grand champion line-up the ram was sashed the champion August shorn medium wool Merino ram when it won its class ahead of eight other rams.
The four-tooth, ET-bred ram, which is by Charinga 199, was also the grand champion Merino ram at this year's Woolorama.
The ram has current wool figures of 21.2 micron, 3.3 SD, 15.7 CV and 99.8pc CF.
Standing behind the Coromandel ewe in the grand championship and taking home the reserve grand champion August shorn ewe ribbon was a classy, strong wool ewe from the Blight family's Seymour Park stud, Highbury.
When the ewe received its ribbon Mr Button said the ewe had a nice large frame and was structurally correct.
"Not only is she a big ewe, she also expresses plenty of cutting ability," Mr Button said.
"She has a really bulky, crimpy, productive fleece."
In its initial class, the ewe was sashed the champion August shorn strong wool Poll Merino ewe ahead of five other ewes.
The four-tooth ewe which is by Seymour Park 11 has current wool figures of 20.3 micron, 3.0 SD, 14.8 CV and 99.4pc CF.
In the superfine August shorn classes it was the Rangeview stud, Darkan and the Tilba Tilba stud, Williams, which collected the broad ribbons.
The Rangeview stud exhibited both the champion August shorn superfine Merino ram and champion August shorn superfine Poll Merino ram, plus the champion August shorn superfine Poll Merino ewe.
Mr Chapman said the stud's Poll Merino ram was a very sound ram with a consistent white wool all over while its Merino ram had a beautiful superfine wool on a very good chassis and was very true to type.
The 136kg Poll ram is by Rangeview 645 and has wool tests of 20.3 micron, 3.0 SD and 99.5pc CF while the 149kg Merino ram is by Rangeview 52 and has wool figures of 19.2 micron, 2.8 SD and 99.7pc CF.
When it came to Rangeview's champion August shorn superfine Poll Merino ewe Mr Chapman said it showed good size for its wool type and carried a beautiful, white wool.
The ewe was from a syndicate mating of the stud's maiden ewes.
The champion August shorn superfine Merino ewe was exhibited by the Tilba Tilba stud and Mr Chapman said it was a pure superfine ewe and very true to type.
The ewe was from the stud's purple family and has current wool figures of 16.9 micron, 2.8 SD and 100pc CF.
The champion ribbons in the fine wool classes were split evenly between the Rangeview stud, which took home the Merino awards and the Westerdale stud, McAlinden, which received the Poll Merino ribbons.
Mr Chapman said the champion August shorn fine wool Merino ram from Rangeview carried a lustrous, white fine wool which was very even and consistent all over.
The four-tooth, 134kg ram has current wool tests of 18.3 micron, 2.9 SD, 15.8 CV and 99.6pc CF.
When it came to the stud's champion ewe, which is from the stud's Giant family, Mr Chapman said it had a beautiful, white wool on a sound body.
Westerdale exhibited only two sheep in the show and both went home with ribbons when they were sashed the champion August shorn fine wool Poll Merino ram and the champion August shorn fine wool Poll Merino ewe.
Mr Chapman said the Westerdale ram, which beat six other sires to the ribbon, had a pure fine wool on a sound structure, while he said the stud's ewe was a productive ewe which stood up very well and carried a beautiful, white, well-defined fine wool fleece.
The Westerdale ram is by a homebred sire carrying Yarrawonga bloodlines while the ewe was AI-bred and by Yarrawonga 961.
In the fine/medium wool ram championships the Navanvale stud, Williams, exhibited the champion August shorn fine/medium wool Merino ram, while the champion August shorn fine/medium wool Poll Merino ram was exhibited by the Lewisdale stud, Wickepin.
Mr Davies said the Navanvale ram, which is by East Mundalla Jonty, was a good square ram with a beautiful barrel and a great backend.
When it came to the champion Lewisdale sire, he said it was big ram with good bone and plenty of bright, white wool.
The Lewisdale ram, which is by Monty 30, has current wool figures of 19.6 micron and 99.6pc CF to go with a bodyweight of 159kg.
In the fine/medium ewe classes the champion August shorn fine/medium wool Merino ewe ribbon was awarded to a ewe from the Rangeview stud, while the Claypans stud, Corrigin, took home the champion August shorn fine/medium wool Poll Merino ewe ribbon.
Mr Button said the Rangeview ewe, which was from the stud's Giant family, was structurally correct with a productive fleece and good purity.
In terms of the Claypans ewe Mr Button said it had a good spring of rib and a big barrel when it beat six other ewes to the ribbon.
"She has a very good structure and a bright, white, consistent fleece all over," Mr Button said.
The four-tooth Claypans ewe is ET-bred by Claypans 1099 and out of Claypans 505.
The Navanvale stud also collected the ribbon for the champion August shorn medium wool Merino ewe when Mr Davies put it to the front of the line.
He said it had a beautiful frame and was extremely well-covered in a well-nourished, white, medium wool.
The four-tooth ewe is by Westray 16.
When it came to the August shorn strong wool ram classes, it was the Lewis family's Lewisdale stud which stood head and shoulders above the rest, exhibiting both the champion August shorn strong wool Merino ram and champion August shorn strong wool Poll Merino ram.
Mr Button said Lewisdale's Merino sire had impressive scale as well as quality and quantity of wool, while he described the stud's winning Poll Merino ram as typical strong wool type.
"He is a very big ram with great carcase and heavy wool cutting traits," Mr Button said.
The champion Merino ram from Lewisdale, is by Mianelup B303 and has wool figures of 21.3 micron and 99.1pc CF to go with a bodyweight of 169kg, while the Poll Merino ram which is by Monty 10 weighs in at 167kg and has wool figures of 21.2 micron and 99.2pc CF.
The champion August shorn strong wool Merino ewe ribbon was awarded to a big, upstanding ewe from the St Quentin stud, Nyabing, which later also went on to win the PROewe award.
The ewe, which was the supreme exhibit at this year's Woolorama, was described by Mr Button to be a large ewe with a big barrel and a bulky, long-stapled crimpy fleece.
"For size and wool cut, she is a really productive type," Mr Button said.
The four-tooth, ET-bred ewe is by Kamballie 1693 and its dam is sired by East Mundalla Jonty and out of St Quentin 406, which was the stud's supreme exhibit at the 2013 Woolorama.
The ewe has current wool figures of 20.3 micron, 2.9 SD, 14.3 CV and 99.7pc CF.
The champion pair of August shorn rams was exhibited by the Seymour Park stud when its two Poll sires got the nod from Mr Button.
Mr Button said they were structurally very similar and carried two identical fleeces.
"Their fleeces both show really good crimp definition, whiteness and length," he said.
The Mianelup stud's two-year strangle-hold on top honours in the March shorn section was this year broken by an upstanding, young Merino ram from the Wise family's Wililoo stud, Woodanilling.
The classy Wililoo sire, was not only sashed the grand champion March shorn ram, it also took home the Nutrien Livestock-sponsored junior champion ram award.
When the Wililoo sire received these ribbons, Mr Davies said the young ram, which was still carrying its lamb's teeth, took the eye of all the judges with its scale and presence.
"He is a beautifully structured, well-grown ram," Mr Davies said.
"He also has a heap of wool on him, which is thick, dense and stylish.
"He certainly shows plenty of potential and I believe he is going to grow out into a very big ram."
Equally impressed with the young ram was fellow judge Mr Chapman who said the ram had huge scale and a great structure.
"He also has a consistent wool type all over," Mr Chapman said.
"He is certainly a proud ram with a great outlook."
Prior to taking out the top March shorn ram awards, the Wililoo sire was also sashed the champion March shorn fine/medium wool Merino ram when it won its class ahead of six other rams.
The classy, May 2019-drop sire is by Wililoo Hector and has current wool figures of 20.2 micron, 3.0 SD, 14.9 CV and 99.2pc CF to go with a bodyweight of 122kg.
Standing just behind the Wililoo sire and being sashed the reserve grand champion March shorn ram was a young Merino ram from the House family's Barloo stud, Gnowangerup.
Mr Davies said there wasn't much between the Wililoo and Barloo sires.
"The Barloo ram is a 'corker' for its type," he said.
"He stands up really well and has a very sirey wool.
"He is going to be an interesting sheep down the track."
The 129kg ram is by Barloo Prospect and has current wool figures of 21.3 micron, 3.2 SD, 15.3 CV and 98.6pc CF.
The ram stood in the grand champion line-up after winning its class and being sashed the champion March shorn strong wool Merino ram ahead of six other rams.
In its class Mr Button said it was the complete sheep and near fault-free.
"He is structurally very sound and has plenty of wool producing ability," Mr Button said.
It wasn't only the judges which liked the ram, buyers were also impressed when it sold in the sale for $10,500.
In the March shorn superfine wool ram classes it was the Tilba Tilba stud which exhibited both the Merino and Poll Merino champions.
Mr Chapman said Tilba Tilba's Merino ram was very pure and carried a quality superfine wool all over while its Poll Merino champion was a fault free sire which stood up well with a very good superfine wool from top to bottom.
The Merino ram, which is from the stud's blue tag family, has wool figures of 16.6 micron, 3.4 SD and 99.9pc CF.
The Poll Merino sire is from the stud's light green tag family and carries Alfoxton bloodlines and has wool tests of 19.6 micron, 3.3 SD and 99.9pc CF.
Both rams were two-tooths.
The Tilba Tilba stud continued its run collecting champion ribbons when it exhibited the champion March shorn fine wool Merino ram.
Mr Chapman said the two-tooth ram was well-covered and carried a nice, bright, white fine wool from head to toe.
The ram was from the stud's green tag family and has wool figures of 17.3 micron, 3.2 SD and 100pc CF.
The champion March shorn fine wool Poll Merino ram ribbon went to an exhibit from the Warralea stud, Gairdner.
Mr Chapman said the Warralea ram which beat eight others to the ribbon carried a stylish wool throughout and was a very traditional fine wool ram.
The 109kg, two-tooth Warralea ram is sired by Warralea Wally and has current wool figures of 18.4 micron, 3.2 SD and 99.7pc CF.
The champion March shorn fine/medium wool Poll Merino ram ribbon was awarded to an upstanding sire from the Mianelup stud, Gnowangerup, ahead of 13 other rams.
Mr Davies said the ram had a pure muzzle and poll and was a really good doer.
"He is a big ram with a good sirey wool," Mr Davies said.
The two-tooth, AI-bred ram, which is by Mianelup Bubba, weighs in at 134kg and has wool figures of 21.0 micron, 3.2 SD and 99.1pc CF.
The Mianelup stud continued its success in the medium wool section exhibiting the champion March shorn medium wool Poll Merino ram in front of 28 other rams in the day's biggest class.
When it came to this ram Mr Davies said it had the potential to grow into a very big ram.
"He stands up well, has great size, a pure poll and a bold crimp definition," he said.
The 118kg sire is also by Mianelup Bubba, while wool tests come in at 21.7 micron, 3.6 SD and 99.0pc CF.
The Patterson family's Woolkabin stud, Woodanilling, exhibited the champion March shorn medium wool Merino ram.
When Mr Davies sashed the ram in front of 14 others in its class he said it had good bone, a really strong pure muzzle and a big head.
"It is also covered in a quality medium wool all the way to the ground," he said.
The two-tooth ram is by a Wanganella sire purchased by Woolkabin a couple of years ago and it has wool figures of 21.1 micron, 3.3 SD and 99.1pc CF.
The champion March shorn strong wool Poll Merino ram ribbon was awarded to a sire from the Kolindale stud, Dudinin.
Mr Button said the Kolindale ram, which placed ahead of 20 other sires, was wide through the chest and it carried this width all the way through to its backend.
"It also has a long-stapled, bright, crimpy, well-nourished wool," Mr Button said.
The ram which is still carrying its lamb's teeth is by Wallaloo Park 93.
Like in the August shorn ewe classes, it was the Coromandel stud that came out on top and claimed the grand champion ribbon in the March shorn section.
When the classy, young ewe from the Coromandel stud was sashed the grand champion March shorn ewe Mr Button said it was a really productive ewe.
"She has an excellent skin which is producing a high quality white wool," he said.
"She also has good size and width right through.
"She is a well put together ewe that stands up nice and square."
Before standing in the grand champion line-up the two-tooth ewe was sashed the champion March shorn medium/strong wool Poll Merino ewe in its initial class ahead of seven other ewes.
The ET-bred ewe is by Nerstane Derek 22 and out of a Coromandel ewe carrying Yarrawonga bloodlines.
The ewe has current wool figures of 18.3 micron, 3.8 SD and 99.8pc CF.
Standing in reserve to the Coromandel ewe and sashed the reserve grand champion March shorn ewe was a ewe from the Belmont Park stud, Wagin.
Mr Button said the Belmont Park ewe, which also ran reserve to the Coromandel ewe in their initial class, had a good long body with plenty of barrel.
"It also has a long, thick fleece and plenty of wool cutting ability," he said.
The AI-bred, two-tooth ewe is by East Bungaree Trey.
The Belmont Park stud also exhibited the champion March shorn superfine/fine and fine/medium wool Poll Merino ewe in front of six other ewes.
Mr Chapman said the Belmont Park ewe had a very sound structure and a beautiful, lustrous white wool.
The two-tooth ewe is AI-bred by Boonoke 28.
The champion March shorn superfine/fine and fine/medium wool Merino ewe was exhibited by the St Quentin stud.
Mr Chapman said the ewe was a big mature animal with plenty of scale and beautiful, white wool.
The two-tooth ewe is by White River 49.
The grand champion and champion pair of March shorn rams was a pair of Poll Merinos from the Kolindale stud.
When the pair received its champion pair of March shorn rams ribbon in front of 16 other pairings, Mr Davies said the Kolindale pair stood up really well and was very evenly matched.
"They both have beautifully, long-stapled, free-growing wools and both are well-structured, well-grown rams," he said.
One ram in the pair was by Wallaloo Park 94, while the other was by Kolindale 164, which was the supreme exhibit at last year's Expo.