Show high­lights Aus­tralia’s iconic Merino

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - News -

THE world’s big­gest event of its kind will open in Bendigo on Fri­day, July 18 when the Aus­tralian Sheep & Wool Show brings to­gether the best of Aus­tralia’s wool, lamb and fi­bre fash­ion in­dus­tries.

About 5,500 farm­ers – in­clud­ing some of the top 500 sheep pro­duc­ers – will at­tend and com­pete for in­dus­try ex­cel­lence awards.

But, the event has also be­come an im­por­tant bridge be­tween ru­ral pro­duc­ers and the 30,000 show vis­i­tors who can learn first­hand where their food and fi­bre comes from.

This bring­ing to­gether of ru­ral and re­gional in­dus­tries and city vis­i­tors and con­sumers has evolved since 1877.

To­day the best in breed­ing ad­vances, ge­net­ics and in­no­va­tive farm­ing prac­tices join forces with the growth in farm, city fringe and city-based, value-adding businesses util­is­ing wool and other nat­u­ral fi­bres.

The fi­bre craft in­dus­try has seen a year-on-year in­crease in pop­u­lar­ity and strong recog­ni­tion of the role women play in the wool in­dus­try.

The fea­ture breed at this year’s show is the iconic Merino, but it too is en­joy­ing resur­gence.

Na­tion­ally sig­nif­i­cant fleece com­pe­ti­tions, ram sales and Supreme and Grand Cham­pion ewes and lambs will be de­cided.

While the qual­ity and quan­tity of wool pro­duced by Meri­nos continues to be a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic con­trib­u­tor, the move to­wards im­prov­ing the meat side of the in­dus­try will be in ev­i­dence with lambs that carry less fat and dress well.

This has led to an an­nual in­crease in the num­ber of en­tries for all pur­pose classes.

With about 740 Merino en­tries cov­er­ing 74 classes, the breed will be un­der the spot­light.

The English breeds will also have a very strong show­ing with about 501 en­tries and Dor­pers/White Dor­pers also con­tinue to grow with 427 en­tries.

Im­por­tant Dor­per ram and ewe sales will also be held dur­ing the show.

In all, more than 2500 sheep from five states, rep­re­sent­ing 28 dif­fer­ent breeds, will see the cham­pi­ons of each breed judged to de­ter­mine the Supreme Prime Lamb, Supreme Long Wool, and Supreme Bri­tish Breed Group.

What will be rep­re­sented on the show­ground is stock and pro­duc­tion worth more than $895 mil­lion.

Run­ning par­al­lel with this is a strong young farmer and schools com­pe­ti­tion com­po­nent and this sec­tor will con­tinue to be ex­panded to en­cour­age young people to take up ca­reers in the ru­ral in­dus­try.

Vis­i­tors also have about 340 trade stalls to choose from that pro­vide re­tail and ed­u­ca­tional out­lets that demon­strate the di­verse range of val­ueadding businesses both on-farm and in the wider fash­ion, craft and sheep­related re­tail sec­tors.

The state’s best shear­ers and dog han­dlers will also con­tinue to raise the bar with daily demon­stra­tions and com­pe­ti­tions.

The North Cen­tral Sports ShearsAs­so­ci­a­tion will hold the show’s shear­ing and wool han­dling com­pe­ti­tion.

Vic­to­rian state ti­tles are up for grabs and there will also be the chance to cheer on the home team with an Aus­tralia ver­sus New Zealand chal­lenge.

Train­ing work­shops will be held with a mas­ter­class shear­ing demon­stra­tion, wool han­dling tech­niques and get­ting the best out of your equip­ment.

For lovers of all things ca­nine, the Vic­to­rian Arena Sheep­dog Tri­als will be in full swing, at­tract­ing some of the state’s top work­ing dogs and their tal­ented own­ers and train­ers.

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