Enthusiasm on show at NMC

Enthusiasm on show at NMC


More than 100 students from across Australia have enjoyed a detailed introduction to the wool industry at the 2017 National Merino Challenge (NMC).

More than 100 students from across Australia have enjoyed a detailed introduction to the wool industry at the 2017 National Merino Challenge (NMC).


Now in its fifth year, the two-day event has now introduced around 500 secondary and tertiary students to the basic skills involved in the wool industry and introduced them to a network of wool industry professionals.

The aim of the NMC is not only to give students an understanding of the career opportunities within the sheep and wool industries but to offer basic skills involved with the sheep and wool industries through appraisal using both traditional and modern methods.

Dale Bruns, AWN wool and sheep specialist Western District and National Merino Challenge steering committee member, shows challenge participants the basics of classing sheep.

The NMC has quickly established itself as a leading education program for young students interested in a career in the wool industry.

NMC project manager Ben Watts said the NMC had grown rapidly since its inception because it met the demands of a new generation.

“Young people are very keen and optimistic for the wool industry. It is these young minds that will be taking the industry forward in years to come with fresh ideas for this industry in a digital age,” Mr Watts said.

“It's exciting to see and great to be involved and the engagement via twitter using #awinmc shows just how engaged they are.”

Dr Emma Doyle lectures on sheep and wool at the University of New England. She shares some of the reasons the university brings a team of students to the National Merino Challenge - even if it during exam period!

On Saturday and Sunday, at the Melbourne Showgrounds, students are introduced to, and then assessed on, a wide range of skills. These include feed budgeting, condition scoring, breeding objectives, wool harvesting together with the commercial assessment and classing of animals and fleeces.

Their score at each skill-based activity is then collated and winners announced.


  • Champion: Brooke Watts, Molong Central School, NSW; Second: Zoey Phelps, Cummins Area School, SA; Third: Caitlyn Watts, Molong Central School
  • Champion team: Cummins Area School
  • Top wool section performer: Matthew Charlton, Cummins Area School
  • Top production section performer: Brooke Watts
  • Top breeding section performer: Claire Pitchford, Urrbrae Agricultural High School, SA
  • Top trainer: Lisa Richard-son, Cummins Area School


  • Champion: Emily Attard, University of Melbourne; Second: Elliot Lade, Charles Sturt University; Third: Annika Alexander, University of Melbourne
  • Champion team: Charles Sturt University
  • Top wool and production sections performer: Emily Attard 
  • Top breeding section performer: Annika Alexander

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