THE Blight family's Highbury-based Seymour Park stud shone through again in this year's Australian Fleece Competition at the Australian Sheep & Wool Show at Bendigo, Victoria, last week, claiming a major champion ribbon.
The Australian Fleece competition, which is in its 21st year and is the biggest fully measured fleece competition in the world, attracted 345 entries from 130 exhibitors from across Australia this year.
The Blight family was awarded the reserve champion medium (20.6-22.0 micron) ribbon, backing up on 2019 when it won the champion medium ribbon.
The Seymour Park fleece was also sashed the champion WA fleece.
The fleece finished on 89.48 points, when it was judged and placed first in the medium stud ram, 20.6 to 22 micron class, which attracted 11 entries.
The fleece, which was one of five ram fleece entered by the Blight family, measured 21.0 micron, 16.6 CV, 99.5 per cent comfort factor, 127mm staple length (SL), 43N/kt staple strength (SS), 72.1pc yield, 11.9 kilograms greasy fleece weight (GFW) and 8.6kg clean fleece weight (CFW).
It recorded a value of 1372 cents/kilogram clean and 989c/kg greasy for a value of $117.89.
The winning fleece was one of the stud's shed-prepared show rams from last year, which has been retained in the stud and is by Seymour Park 68.
With their other four fleeces the Blights finished second in the superfine stud ram (17.6 to 18.5 micron class), first and second in the fine-medium stud ram (19.6 to 20.5 micron class) and second in the strong stud ram (22.1 micron and stronger) class.
Their winning fleece in the fine-medium stud ram class finished on 80.83 points and measured 19.9 microns, 16.1 CV, 99.5pc CF, 131mm SL, 43N/kt SS, 75.4pc yield, 9.5kg GFW and 7.2kg CFW.
It recorded a value of 1481c/kg clean and 1117c/kg greasy for a value of $106.63.
Other WA exhibitors in the competition were the Rintoul family Tilba Tilba and Dongiemon studs, Williams (six fleeces) and TH & MH Mitchell, Monjingup.
The grand champion fleece title was awarded to Phil and Kim Hartwich, Mt Challicum Merino stud, Ararat, Victoria, when their extra superfine fleece scored 97.43 points out of a possible 100.
The win marked the second time the stud has won the top award in the competition, having previously won it in 2014 and along with winning the top award the stud was also named the most successful exhibitor.
The Mt Challicum fleece obtained its winning score in the extra superfine stud ewe or wether class, 16.6 to 17.5 micron.
The fleece measured 17.2 microns, 15.6 CV, 99.8pc CF, 96mm SL, 46N/kt SS, 72.7pc yield, 7.1kg GFW and 5.2kg CFW.
It recorded a value of 2649c/kg clean and 1926c/kg greasy for a value of $137.75.
After winning grand champion ribbon in 2019, Glen Brothers Pty Ltd, Wattlebank Merino stud, Guildford, Victoria, this year had to settle for the reserve grand champion ribbon when its 16 micron Ultrafine fleece scored 95.43 points in the ultrafine stud ewe or wether class, 15.6 to 16.5 micron.
The judges for the competition included Modiano Australia senior buyer Lou Morsh and Ian Shawcross, Nutrien/Arcadian Wool, Geelong, Victoria.
Mr Shawcross said favorable growing conditions in most areas, along with good breeding and management practices had produced an excellent quality show this year.
Mr Morsh said the majority of the fleeces in the Merino section showed all traits of the modern Merino.
"They were well nourished, heavy cutting wool with a long staple and deep crimp," Mr Morsch said.
He also endorsed the competition's judging criteria by adding the visual traits of the fleeces were very even, separating them on that alone would have been very difficult this year.
Competition convener, Nutrien Wool's Candice Cordy, said organisers were very pleased to run another successful event this year.
"The Australian Sheep and Fleece Show was cancelled due to COVID in 2020 and 2021, so we are thrilled to be back on again this year," Ms Cordy said.
"This is a really important event for the industry and a great opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate all the hard work of our livestock producers and wool growers."
This year the competition was supported by 26 sponsors and offered $18,000 in prizes to the winners, with the grand champion fleece exhibitor collecting a $2200 travel voucher sponsored by Nutrien Wool and Elanco Animal Health.
This year almost two thirds of the fleeces on show were donated by exhibitors to be auctioned at the completion of the competition, with all proceeds donated to a different nominated charity each year with this year's nominated charity being Lifeline.
Since its inception, more than $190,000 dollars has been raised for important causes.
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