Merino breeder sticks to his guns to win national fleece award

Sheep Central, July 19, 2019

Stephen Glen with his grand champion fleece. Image – Candice Cordy.

CENTRAL Victorian Merino breeder Stephen Glen has won the nation’s premier Australian Fleece Competition grand champion award for the first time after 19 years of trying.

Mr Glen’s fine 18 micron Merino fleece was valued at $147.63 and scored 94.65 points out of 100 in the superfine Merino stud ewe or wether class to go on to win the competition’s main award.

He said the 8.1kg skirted fleece came off a two year-old stud ewe from his stud’s Grand Monarch family. The ewe’s sire is the son of a Merryville ram.

Glen Brothers P/L, from the Wattle Bank Merino Stud, Guildford, Central Victoria, has supported the competition in each of its 19 years. Mr Glen said he had previously won sections of the competition and came within a fraction of a point of winning the grand champion sash once.

The competition is supported by 26 sponsors and offers $17,000 in prizes, with the grand champion fleece exhibitor collecting a $2000 travel voucher sponsored by Landmark and Gallagher.

The Sea-Ori Pastoral Company P/L at Crookwell, New South Wales, won the reserve champion and commercial champion awards with a 17.3 micron Superfine Merino fleece scoring an impressive 94.20 points.

The Australian Fleece Competition is the largest fully measured fleece competition in the world, attracting 364 entries from 145 exhibiters and is run in conjunction with the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo up to Sunday 21 July. The competition is a joint effort by the Australian Sheep Breeders Association, Australian Wool Testing Authority and Landmark.

Almost two thirds of the fleeces on show were donated by exhibitors for auction at the completion of the competition, with all proceeds going to this year’s nominated charity, CoOperative Trials Group for Neuro-Oncology (COGNO).

Mr Glen said that it was a great surprise to win the award with his stud show ewe.

“It is the culmination of a long process, which started when my father travelled to Merryville in 1971 with stud classer Keith McColl to generate some extra style and definition into our wool.

“We continue to work closely with Wal Merriman today,” he said

“It shows that if you stick to your guns and stick to your type, good things can happen,” Mr Glen said.

“We have always supported the fleece competition and its charities, and we are particularly proud to win this year with COGCO the nominated charity.”

The in-lamb ewe that produced the grand champion fleece isn’t part of the 2019 Wattle Bank show team, but the stud has five sheep in the Bendigo show and will take seven to Hamilton’s Sheepvention show next month.

Judges for this year’s competition were Endeavour Wool Exports director Josh Lamb and Landmark TWG Wool manager Jason Carmichael.

Mr Carmichael said that seasonal conditions throughout eastern Australia in the past 12 months have dealt wool growers many challenges in producing the ultimate fleece.

“A large number of commercial fleeces showed signs of the tough seasonal conditions, but exhibitors are to be congratulated for presenting a quality product in spite of this,” he said

Mr Lamb said, from an exporter’s point of view, it was noted that some entrants were shearing at the optimal time to ensure their fleeces received a high processing score and fleece value, while other excellent fleeces were discounted in the strength and hauteur result.

Competition convener, Landmark’s Candice Cordy, praised the achievements of the exhibitors and sponsors who continue to support the competition.

“While entries are down on last year, we are very happy with the support shown, particularly when the tough seasonal conditions are taken into account,” she said.

In the competition’s commercial value section, the average value of Merino fleece entries was $110 this year, compared to $102 per fleece last year. Victorian Merino breeders Norm and Kerri Weir at Dunluce entered a Merino fleece valued at $212.36.

The performance class, which caters for exhibitors shearing in six to eight-month cycles commercially was again well supported, with this year’s winner was Elanvale Holdings, Pyramid Hill, Victoria.

COGNO’s main aim is to conduct investigator-initiated and collaborative group trials addressing important clinical questions in patients with brain tumours.

Mrs Cordy said over the past 18 years, exhibitors in the Australian Fleece Competition have donated over $167,000 to national charities.

“This year, COGNO will benefit from the continued generosity of our wool growers and sponsors.” she said.

All competition fleeces were weighed and sampled for objective measurement (including length and strength), under standard procedures of the Australian Wool Testing Authority.


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