For the second year in a row the RNA Merino fleece competition has been held hundreds of kilometres from Brisbane, thanks to the cancellation of the Ekka once again.
The 51 fleeces contesting the 2021 competition were judged at the Victoria Downs woolshed at Morven on Saturday - last year the Baynham shearing shed at Mitchell was the venue for the revamped competition.
In a happy coincidence it was a fine wool fleece from a Victoria Downs Merino ram that won the Roberts family the broad ribbon for grand champion fleece of the show.
A medium wool fleece from a wether at Barbara Plains, Wyandra won Jeff and Trish Agar and family the trophy for champion Merino ewe or wether's fleece of the show, with the same fleece that had won the champion flock fleece title at the State Sheep Show at Longreach in May.
Some 26 stud fleeces were entered along with 25 flock fleeces, for judging by Bruce Lines, QWool Services, based at Roma, who said it was a good line-up considering the majority of the shows that fleeces would have been sourced from had struggled to take place this year.
"The Victoria Downs fleece has everything - lustre, even crimp, no creaminess on the points," he said.
"There were very good fleeces in each class - I had to concentrate on techical things like density and length to separate them.
"For Mt Ascot to get 10kg off a ewe was a mighty good result."
The grand champion Victoria Downs fine wool stud ram's fleece scored 89 points and weighed 12.8kg, while its closest rival, a fine wool stud Merino ewe fleece from Mt Ascot, scored 88.5 points.
Will Roberts, RNA councillor and sheep and fleece breeds steward, said it was good to see such close competition.
Victoria Downs also won the ribbon for stud Merino ram medium wool fleece with 88 points, and stud Merino ewe medium wool fleece, also on 88 points.
Mr Roberts complimented the flock Merino exhibitors, coming from as far north as Scott Counsell's Barcaldine property Lyndon and as far south as Burrenbilla at Cunnamulla, owned by Owen Schmidt.
"The tops of the flock fleeces had lots of weight and good crimpy wool," he said.
Flock fleece tussle
The flock fleece competition saw the winner of the Roma Show fleece competition, a fine wool fleece from Fred and Glenda Hacker's Derwent Park at Muckadilla, up against Jeff and Trish Agar's State Sheep Show-winning medium wool fleece.
There was only half a point in the outcome, with the Agar's Barbara Plains fleece scoring 88 points to 87.5 for the Derwent Park fleece.
Mr Agar said he had managed to score an Ekka reserve champion flock fleece ribbon a few years ago but this was the first time he'd won the big prize.
A regular exhibitor and winner at Cunnamulla's show, he also beat 200 or so fleeces at Longreach this year.
He said some of the secrets of his success were having a classed flock, and running wethers on his best country so they would grow plenty of wool.
"I'm on Egelabra blood, which won everything at Longreach," he said.
"I keep my wethers until they're six or seven years - that's what you've got Merinos for, to grow wool.
"I usually cut 8kg, which the shearers don't like because there's no shortcuts, they've got to go right down to the hocks."
Mr Agar said he liked entering show fleece competitions to know that he was on the right track with his breeding path.
"You don't know where you are unless you go in these things," he said.
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The story Victoria Downs, Barbara Plains win in Ekka Merino fleece judging first appeared on Queensland Country Life.