Woolgrowers on the Monaro have long anticipated the annual Berridale Merinos ewe competition run under the auspices of the Berridale Agricultural Bureau but this year the excitement is higher because it will the ninetieth occasion the event has been held.
To be held on 3 and 4 May, the format involves 11 entrants across the breadth of the Monaro exposing their Merino flocks to the careful and critical scrutiny of the judges and the crowd which follow the competition through the two days.
Committee president, Ross Walters said the competition is expected to be very strong as the flocks which are entered have attained a high level of production and the pleasure at being recognised by their peers drives each Merino breeder to reach for success.
"We believe this is the oldest competition of its type in Australia by a large margin," Mr Walters said.
"To have continued to be a relevant venue for improving the productivity on the Monaro through droughts, good seasons, falling wool prices and war is no mean feat and we are proud to build on the efforts of those who had the foresight to start the competition.
"There is also no doubt the rivalry between the entrants makes for a couple of days of very interesting conversation."
Mr Walters said the intention of competition leading to higher productivity has certainly underlined the reputation of the Monaro as a source of first class Merino wool and quality sheep.
"We have had a pretty tough season but some of the Monaro is now in better shape than others so it will be an interesting couple of days for the judges, spectators and entrants," he said.
"We will be able to see how the entrants are coping with breeding Merino sheep which will perform through droughts as well as good seasons."
The judges for this years competition are Patrick Davis, Demondrille Merinos, Harden who is returning for the second year and Garry Cox, Langdene Merinos, Dunedoo.
Although he has judged at many other Merino ewe competitions, this is first time Mr Cox will be assessing the Monaro-bred flocks and he is looking forward to the experience.
"It is always good to see sheep in different environments," he said.
"At the end of the day we all trying to make more money out of our sheep and it is always worthwhile seeing what other breeders are doing and comparing their ideas and hopes with your own."
Mr Cox said all sheep breeders have different ideals and the Merino ewe competitions are a good place for those various concepts to be discussed.
"I hope a lot of people who are serious about Merinos and wool will come along," he said.
Mr Walters agrees and is looking forward to meeting wool growers from other regions.
"I encourage as many outsiders as possible to visit the Monaro and see some great Merinos," he said.
"We have various classes open for competition so keen Merino people will be able to see sheep in near full wool to short wool and listen to the comments from judges on how they see further improvements might be made."
Through the history of the competition there have been three outright winners of the overall award and Mr Walters said they will be on display during the dinner on the second night when the awards will be made.
- Contact Ross Walters 0427200025 or Tim Jardine 0428688646