Top young Merino fleece and sheep judges heading north

Sheep Central, July 5, 2021

Erin Douglas will represent Victoria in the national 2021 Merino fleece judging final.

AUSTRALIA and New Zealand’s finest young Merino fleece and sheep judges will compete for the national titles in Queensland next month.

Agricultural Shows Australia said the finalists from Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and New Zealand will compete at the 143rd Royal Queensland Show — the Ekka – in Brisbane from 7-9 August 2021.

The competition sponsored by Australian Wool Innovation brings together the best young Merino fleece and sheep judges from each state and New Zealand aged from 15 to 25 years.

The finalists include:

  • Hayden Baker, 23, from Katanning in Western Australia.
  • Will Hacker, 21, from ‘Roselea’, Muckadilla, in Queensland.
  • Matilda Scott, 22, from Cleveland in Tasmania.
  • Sophie Nuske, 19, from Port Lincoln in South Australia.
  • Clarissa Peasley, 18, from Condobolin/Forbes in New South Wales.
  • Erin Douglas, 18, from Mornington in Victoria.
  • Niamh Barnett, 19, from Dannevirke in New Zealand.

In the national Merino sheep judging final, Kurt Richards, 19, from Dowerin will represent Western Australia; fleece finalist Will Hacker will represent Queensland; Campbell Rubie, 16, from Forbes will represent New South Wales; Robbie Harper, 24, from Cheviot, will represent New Zealand; Klay Smith, 24, from Cowell will represent South Australia; Ben Hartwich, 21, from Bullygrogran (Ararat) will represent Victoria, and; Sym Hood, 18, from Longford will represent Tasmania. The meat sheep finalists will be announced later this week.

ASA chairman Dr Rob Wilson said the competition is designed to recognise and support the best new talent in judging livestock nationwide.

“It’s an extremely prestigious event and positions at the nationals are keenly contested.

“These young people are the future of agricultural show competitions which are crucial to the continual improvement of Australia’s food and fibre,” Dr Wilson said.

“The national competition is a coveted opportunity to grow personally and professionally by practising skills against the cream of the crop.”

The national competition is held in a different location each year to promote livestock judging, parading and the industry as widely as possible throughout Australia.

Queensland Ag Shows president Kerri Robertson explained that, in a Merino fleece competition, young judges assess the style, uniformity of length, yield, handle, colour or bloom and crimp formation of the wool.

“Entrants are asked to outline their reasons for placing the animals and justify their positions. Participants demonstrate skills in communication, public speaking, fleece and industry specific knowledge.

“The task of judging is a subjective one, based on selected production systems and changing market conditions,” Ms Robertson said.

“It is important that entrants are able to use their skills and articulate their approach.

“Our goal is to expand the knowledge and skills of the entrants, helping them as youthful individuals to develop their careers.”

Overall there are nine categories for judging and parading each year under the ASA national competition program: beef cattle, dairy cattle, alpaca, poultry, Merino sheep, meat sheep breed and Merino fleece judging, as well as parading competitions in beef and dairy cattle.

AWI’s chief operating officer John Roberts said AWI is proud to support the competition.

“Australian wool has a bright future so it needs the best in the brightest to stay interested and involved in this great industry that’s why we are so pleased to back the annual Merino fleece young judges competition. And may the best judge win,” he said.

Qualification for the national finals is gained via regional and state competitions. Previous national winners of the Merino fleece competition include Stephanie Davies of NSW in 2019, Stuart Richardson of WA in 2018, Caitlin Hepner of SA in 2017, Brooke Sewell of NSW in 2016, Angus Dawson of NSW in 2015, Tara Clarke of SA in 2014, Jessica Perrin of NZ in 2013, Will Gibson of WA in 2012, Allycia Bennett of QLD in 2011, Rick Wise of WA in 2010, Kurt Wise of WA in 2009 and Belinda Reardon of TAS in 2008.

For more information about the competition head to


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