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Ultrafine fleece features in Zegna wool award winners

Terry Sim, May 16, 2022

Angie and David Waters with their top 15 micron Zegna award bale.

AUSTRALIA’S top superfine wool growers celebrated their farms’ best efforts at the weekend, led by a world-best 9.8 micron fleece from Victoria and a 15 micron bale from New South Wales.

In the 58th Ermenegildo Zegna Wool Awards presented at Ararat, Victorian producers Brad and Melissa Sandlant won the prestigious Zegna Vellus Aureum Trophy for the first time with a shedded 9.8 micron fleece weighing about 1.1 kilograms.

Melissa and Brad Sandlant with their winning 9.8 micron fleece that scored 93 points out of 100.

The fleece bettered by 0.1 micron the previous finest fleece entered in the competition, from Victorian producers David and Susan Rowbottom in 2016.

“I didn’t know the micron of that fleece when we entered it.

“It blows me away to get a 9.8 micron fleece, that stuff doesn’t happen every day and it’s exciting when it does,” he said.

Brad said they run a small flock of between 100-300 wethers.

“I’m pretty lucky to work where I work and to have a big pool to select sheep from (the family Pyrenees Park flock).

“I’m privileged to get my hands on the best of the best.”

15 micron bale from NSW takes out Zegna award

In the Ermenegildo Zegna Superfine Wool Trophy for a bale of 14.5-18 micron wool, the 121 kilogram entry from David and Angie Waters, from Tarrangower at Hillgrove, gave them their fourth win, and a trophy plate and $7500 cheque. The bale had a tensile strength of 47 Newtons/kilotex and an average staple length of 90mm.

The Waters also won the bale award in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and came fourth in 2020. The Waters also won the Zegna fleece competition, in 2014. This year the Waters also won the AWGA fleece competition’s Grand Champion Trophy with their top 80’s class winner.

David said the bale comprised mainly paddock-grown ewe wool with a few wethers. He said the Hillgrove flock would continue to retain some wethers for fleece production now that wool prices were buoyant. The top ten bales entered in the competition are bought by Zegna at an agreed price plus a 50pc premium.

“It was outstanding,” David said after their Zegna win was announced. He said they were “absolutely stoked” to be also called up as the winner of the ASWGA Grand Champion Trophy.

“It was completely unexpected … it was brilliant.”

David said the owners of the fifth placed bale, Dan and Sarah Calvert near Armidale were long-term Tarrangower ram clients.

“That’s the proof in the pudding that the (Tarrangower) genetics are doing the job.”

David said the premiums for ultra and superfine wool were probably as good as he had seen.

“As far as profitability, it’s as good as it has been for a long time.

“And from the strength of the demand they are quoting, I don’t see that changing any time soon,” he said.

David said it was a very wet, but favourable growing season, and he had continued his focus on quality.

“We do the best job that we can do and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.

“I think Paolo Zegna’s message on maintaining quality resonates really well with us.”

The Waters join about 900 ewes annually, within a flock or around 2000-2500 sheep, on 1400 acres, also have an opportunistic cattle trading operation. Their Authentico accredited clip is non-mulesed.

David said he appreciated Mr Zegna’s statement that the Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association and its members were the Formula One of the wool industry.

Results of the ASWGA Fleece competition are:

Grand Champion Trophy sponsored by Australian Council of Wool Exporters & Processors

David & Angie Waters of Tarrangower, New England region

The class competition winners sponsored by Natsun

90’s Class – Andrew, Penny & Ed Hundy of Windradeen, Mudgee region

80’s Class – David & Angie Waters of Tarrangower, New England region

74’s Class – Mark & Lesleann Waters of Riverton, New England region

70’s Class – Luke & Michelle Rapley of Plassey Rural, Tasmanian region

The regional award winners sponsored by Nutrien Wool, Yass/Vic/Tas, Zoetis, Fox & Lillie Rural, Riverina Wool Testers & AWN Pty Ltd – WA

Irene & Daryl Croake of Oak Hills, Mudgee region

Geoff & Heather Phillips of Currawong, Ararat/Barunah region

Brett & Sue Picker of Hillcreston Heights, Goulburn/Yass region

James & Faye Pepper of Mumballview, Western Australian region

Trevor & Kathy Mibus of Glenara Merinos, Hamilton region

Luke & Michelle Rapley of Plassey Rural, Tasmanian region

David & Angie Waters of Tarrangower, New England region

The judges of the fleece competition were Mark Symes of G. Schneider & Rowan Woods of Jemalong Wool.

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