Deniliquin Pastoral Times
SCHOOL’S TOP RESULT
Merino sheep raised by the Deniliquin High School’s agriculture team have been judged among the best wethers in the state.
The school placed second overall in the NSW School Merino Wether Challenge, and placed first in the Riverina.
As part of the challenge, participating schools were gifted seven Merino wether lambs and the ag teams were solely responsible for their diet and health for six months.
The final judging was meant to be hosted by Deniliquin High School last month, but because of COVID-19 restrictions it was cancelled.
All sheep were instead sent back to Dubbo for judging.
The wethers cared for by Deni High’s team one were judged to have a total value of $1207.25, ranking them first in the Riverina out of 20 teams from 10 schools.
It was the second highest value from 100 teams competing across the state, from 50 schools.
Deni High’s team two finished tenth in the Riverina.
Judges looked at three key features when judging the entries — the sheep themselves, their wool and carcase value.
Deni’s top team recorded $515 (second in the Riverina) in sheep value, $215.93 (third in Riverina) for wool value and $476.33 (second in Riverina) in carcase value.
Their best lamb weighed 69kg had 14mm fat depth, 22 eye muscle depth and produced 8.4kg fleece at 19.6 micron
Deniliquin High School agriculture teacher Emily Pearn said students performed well, raising quality lambs for the challenge.
She said what they learned this year would be put in to practice for next year's competition, where the school hoped to improve on its results.
‘‘The students have been responsible for the health and wellbeing of the wethers, adjusting their diet, monitoring their weight gain and teaching them to lead with the aim of producing a commercially productive animal,’’ Mrs Pearn said.
‘‘Students learned about current industry practice and got hands on experience drafting and yarding sheep.
‘‘One of the things we identified was investing in a bigger feeder so there is more room for the sheep to gain better access to the pellets, and we would like to thank the Malin family who have just recently donated a Bromar lickfeeder.
‘‘We also identified inaccuracy in our data collection and shelter as areas of improvement, and are looking to invest in a set of sheep scales and build a new shelter in the paddock.’’
Students involved in the program said they had fun learning about the Merino wethers and having the opportunity to take part in the hands on experience.
‘‘I feel this program was a really good experience as it gives students who are not familiar with the sheep industry and insight into what it is all about,’’ Taylor Wilkinson said.
‘‘I feel we got a real taste of what it takes to bring up good sheep and what you should aim for,’’ Duncan Hughes added.
‘‘I learnt a lot about nutrition and how to increase growth in muscle and fat. We all learnt how to stand sheep and lead them which was difficult,’’ Jack Micheal said.
The annual competition is organised by the NSW Stud Merino Breeders Association, with support from Australian Wool Innovation.
It aims to educate and engage students on the commercial production of Merino sheep by giving them a memorable hands-on experience covering a broad range of sheep and wool production skills.
The judging at Dubbo was the culmination of a program which saw students participate in independent school lessons with agriculture staff, and various training days earlier this year.