NEW South Wales superfine wool growers David and Angie Waters have come out of the drought to win a Cleckheaton Grand Champion Trophy on their second attempt.
The principals of Tarrangower Merinos in NSW’s New England won the prestigious trophy with a 14.8 micron young stud ewe fleece.
The couple achieved minor placings in their first Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association fleece competition last year, but in the 2020 competition they won the New England category, and their class 80s quality fleece went on to win the Cleckheaton best overall fleece trophy.
Competition judges Greg Andrews of Schute Bell and Lachie Brown from Elders awarded the top fleece 95.5 points. It was skirted down to about 3.1kgs.
Mr Waters said the fleece “picked itself’ as it came across the wool table at shearing.
“It was an incredibly crimpy fleece … it had an exceptionally well-defined crimp and when you flicked it over and have a looked at the white side, it just had everything going for it, with good length, softness and brightness.
“We were excited and honoured to receive the news that we had won the 80’s section, the New England region and the Cleckheaton Grand Champion Trophy in the ASWGA fleece competition this year,” he said.
“Given the challenging growing season and the high calibre of competitors, it came as a huge surprise and an achievement of we which we are very proud of.”
Mr Waters thanked the award sponsors, Bendigo Woollen Mill and The Australian Yarn Co, for their support of the competition and everyone who contributed to making it a success.
“Congratulations to all placegetters and we wish everyone a favourable season and that international sentiment and wool prices soon improve.
“It was a nice surprise actually given how crook it has been, the New England was as tough as you would ever want to see last year, so it was a really pleasant surprise.”
Last year their property only received about 290mm of rain in an 830mm average area.
“We’ve never fed more and I think the region as a whole has never been tighter for stock numbers, guys had sold completely out of their stock….”
The Waters sold their 80-cow beef herd and maintained 75 percent of their sheep numbers – all ewes — to get through the drought and are looking forward to a good post-drought lambing in 2020. Their retained stud and commercial ewes – including 40pc maidens — have scanned at 122pc leading up to a September-October lambing.
“Everything is in terrific order, they should lamb down pretty well,” he said.
“I think it is a pretty good opportunity for a plug for Lifetime Ewe Management.
“We conditioned scored the sheep and fed appropriately and got an average lambing percentage (90pc) last year,” he said.
“Last year we fed our lambing ewes every day for months on end.”
ASWGA secretary Melissa Mulley said more than 60 fleeces were entered in this year’s competition and the results were very close.
2020 ASWGA fleece competition winners and placegetters