Rowbottoms’ world record 9.4 micron fleece wins Zegna award

Terry Sim, June 5, 2023

Ultrafine Merino wool growers David and Susan Rowbottom with their world record 9.4 micron fleece and 2023 Zegna Vellus Aureum Trophy.

VICTORIAN ultrafine wool growers David and Susan Rowbottom have won the prestigious Zegna Vellus Aureum Trophy for the seventh time with a new world record 9.4 micron fleece.

The Vellus Aureum Trophy was awarded to the Rowbottoms in Launceston on Saturday night at a dinner as hosted by Ermenegildo Zegna Group director Paolo Zegna as part of the Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association’s annual gathering and farm tour.

The winning one kilogram skirted fleece was striking for its high lustre while being subjectively awarded top points for weight (45.40/50), style (17.82/20), tensile strength (15/15) and excellence (4.3/5) for a total of 91 points out of 100. It came from a three year-old coated Rowensville Merino wether shorn by nephew Luke Rowbottom on the family’s St Helens property.

“I’ll have to check him out when I get home, won’t I?”

The Rowbottom’s son Aaron and his wife Rebecca Rowbottom, ‘Myndarra’ in Victoria placed second with a 10.5 micron fleece and New South Wales growers Danny and Megan Picker from ‘Hillcreston Park’, New South Wales, were third with a 10.9 micron fleece. The competition is open to non-mulesed fleeces with a minimum weight of 750 grams and 12.9 microns or finer.

Kingston bale takes out Zegna Superfine Wool Trophy

Tasmanian sultrafine wool grower and Superfine Wool trohpy winner Simon Cameron with Paolo Zegna. Source – Zegna.

The 2023 Superfine Wool Trophy for a bale was won by Simon and Ann Louise Cameron’s Saralco Partnership at ‘Kingston’, Conara, Tasmania, classed by Evelyn Archer. The Cameron’s 15.4 micron bale scored 94.5 points, just 0.3 points ahead of the entry of second placegetters were Clive and Margaret Smith, ‘Mulgowan’, Queensland. The winning bale’s yield of 78 percent gave it 9.5/10 points and its tensile strength of 50 Newtons/kilotex scored a maximum 20 points. It also scored top points for conformity of length 18/20, trueness of type 18.9/20 and evenness 19.5/20.

Third place was taken by Danny and Megan Picker from Hillcreston Park. The competition is open to 14.5-18 micron bales of non-mulesed wool.

David Rowbottom said Rowensville has produced a 9.4 micron fleece before, but not of the weight of the winning fleece. He said winning the award was tremendous and he was still “up in the clouds.”

“It took until today (Monday) for it to really sink in … we broke the world record at 9.4 micron, it’s basically unheard of.”

The Rowbottoms produced a world record 9.9 micron fleece to win in 2016 and that was broken with 9.8 micron fleece from Victorian producers Brad and Melissa Sandlant last year.

Mr Rowbottom said the 9.4 micron fleece had a very bright lustre, which is becoming a trait of the Rowensville wool, with a very fine crimp, though still not characteristic of traditional true-to-count ultrafine wool.

“We select for bright white lustrous crimpy wool with a lot of style.

“In some ways, this fleece is one out of the blue.”

He said the fleece and the other top fleeces from the competition will be used by Zegna to make high class suiting material. Mr Rowbottom could not put a value on the winning fleece and said all his wool is sold under confidential contract to a broker. The Rowbottoms also won an undisclosed cash prize in the fleece competition.

He said Rowensville has been growing ultrafine wool typical of the winning fleece for about 12 years. The ultrafine coated wether clip averages around 12 micron and the breeding flock clip averages around 14 micron.

The Rowbottoms were proud of their son and daughter-in-law’s achievement in the competition.

“It’s good to have somebody coming in behind us, because we are getting to the stage where retirement is looming and there has been a lot of work and selection go into the sheep to get to where we are and it would be terrible to see all that wasted.

“It’s great to have family coming behind.”

Working with Australian wool growers of paramount importance – Paolo Zegna

Victorian ultrafine wool growers David and Susan Rowbottom with Paolo Zegna. Source – Zegna

Ermenegildo Zegna Group director Paolo Zegna said working with the best wool growers in the world and striving for excellence is of paramount importance for the group, as it continued “to align to the evolving cultural codes of the new generations and consumers more broadly.”

“Our ambition and our responsibility is to continue to pursue excellence and invest in quality in a manner which is respectful to all of our stakeholders and the natural world, sharing best practice and knowledge with all our key partners such as the Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association,” he said.

“The Zegna Group Awards are a consolidated tradition in the history of wool, becoming more and more relevant over time.

“We hope this award becomes a catalyst for an even larger number of growers to participate and drive them to new heights,” he said.

ASWGA president Mark Waters said the association’s long journey with the Zegna Group covers multiple generations of growers.

“We will continue to work together to promote the excellence of this noble fibre,” he said.


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  1. Lyn Griffin, June 11, 2023

    Congratulations to the Rowbottom family from the Griffins at Raywood.

  2. Don Mudford, June 7, 2023

    Well done if produced genetically and non mulesed. I hope it wasn’t starved with nutrition as indicated by the fine crimping.

    • Graham Strong, July 3, 2023

      That was my question also, but it says 15/15 for tensile strength. It’s not clear from the wording if that’s also a subjective measurement. It would be good to know the tested figures and a bit about the management.

  3. Martha Peach, June 5, 2023

    Greeting from Spain, rather green greetings and “job well done”. We get all excited when we have a 16 micron sheep. The Rowbottom family is a model to follow for us here in Spain.

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