Show highlights Australia’s iconic Merino
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.