New England Merino breeders shine at Sydney Royal Easter Show

On the judging mat: Joe van Eyk Shalimar Park Merinos with the reserve, judge Aaron Granger, Jane & Peter Lette Conrayn Merinos with the champion that won supreme.

On the judging mat: Joe van Eyk Shalimar Park Merinos with the reserve, judge Aaron Granger, Jane & Peter Lette Conrayn Merinos with the champion that won supreme.

New England Merino producers cleaned up at the Sydney Royal Easter Show sheep and fleece competition.

There was stiff competition in the Merino categories this year with Royal Agricultural Society officials indicating that entries were up by 80 in comparison with 2017.

Across sheep, cattle, goats, pigs, horses, domestic animals, arts and crafts, woodchop and whip-cracking, there were 30,000 competition entries from 7000 exhibitors.  

“The Show is the biggest celebration of the country coming to the city in Australia, and with huge crowds in a year where Easter and school holidays didn’t line up, we couldn’t be happier,” RAS general manager Murray Wilton said.

The RAS reported there were 12,000 livestock – including 2337 poultry birds, 822 sheep, 1559 horses, 500 cattle, 108 pigs, 385 goats and 15,000 litres of milk milked in the Dairy Farmers Working Dairy.

Studs from the New England took home a swag of ribbons and prizes in the Merino sheep judging, while in the fleece section most successful exhibitors were Ian and Lorraine Hills, “Leawarra”, Guyra, who were awarded 30 placings including the champion commercially grown Merino fleece. The Watson family’s Maister’s Swamp, Kentucky, commercial and stud flock gained 17 unhoused and commercial ribbons plus three housed awards.

Highlights of the McLaren family's Nerstane Merino stud (Woolbrook) show wins included grand champion fine medium wool ram and grand champion medium poll ram, grand champion medium wool ewe and entry 342 won grand champion fine medium wool poll ewe and grand champion poll Merino ewe, before going on to win supreme ewe of show.

Chris and Cindy Clonan from Alfoxton Merinos (Armidale) earned the title of most successful August-shorn poll Merino exhibitors and won champion August-shorn Merino or poll Merino ewe and grand champion medium wool poll Merino ewe.

The van Eyk family's Shalimar Park Merinos (Wollun) won grand champion ultrafine wool Merino ram and the stud's superfine entry was reserve champion superfine wool Merino ram – coming second to the sheep exhibited by Peter and Jane Lette, Conrayn Merinos, Berridale, that went on to win supreme ram of show. Giving the supreme ram a run for its money were Nerstane's entry in the fine medium category, plus Shalimar Park's ultrafine ram. Nerstane and Shalimar Park also had strong performances in the objective measurement classes.