Sheep studs are looking forward to showing off their prized sheep breeds at shows this year, after two years of COVID lockdowns saw a lack of opportunities to attend competitions.
The Victorian Sheep and Wool Show in Ballarat kicked off the season over the weekend, with stud principals and staff gearing up for the Australian event in Bendigo in three weeks.
Kate Methven, Tuerong Valley Corriedale Stud, Lockwood South, said the next few weeks would be exciting for sheep studs across Victoria.
"The Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo is something really to look forward to in two and half weeks, and getting really into the thick of it," she said.
Ms Methven, who won the Corriedale Ram under one and a half years March shorn category, said the "whole season in general" will look good for her ewes, while rams were looking even better for the end of the year.
Ian Morris, Dalmally Stud, Yarrambat, said he was visiting Ballarat to participate in his first-ever competition showing off the best of his English Leicester flock.
"It's been very exciting and interesting," he said.
"I learned quite a bit about how it all happens, although I was a little bit disappointed that they weren't more of the English Leicester breed - mine was the only one in its category.
"I really wanted to see how my flock was compared with others in a group but the show itself seems very well organised."
Mr Morris said he was also heading to Bendigo as a spectator to meet fellow stud principals who were interested in building up heritage breeds in the country.
"I've been breeding Scottish Highland cattle for a few years, and took an interest in English Leicesters because they're a heritage breed, and didn't want to see them disappear."
Mr Morris is also intent on attending the Sheepvention Rural Expo in Hamilton towards the end of winter but wants to compete in spring agricultural shows like the Whittlesea and Dandenong Shows in November, which showcases more heritage breeds.
The chief executive of the Ballarat Agricultural Society, Elizabeth van Beek, said the Victorian Sheep and Wool show indicates the quality of wool currently available, but there was a delicate balance at this time of year for farmers.
"It's tricky because, for the farmers, the timing all has to do with when they're shearing their sheep," she said.
"When they're showing their sheep, they've got to have a certain amount of wool, so June and July is a better time for many of them ahead of the Bendigo [show],"
Ms van Beek said more than 400 sheep had been on display at the Ballarat show and that many of them were high quality, but numbers are looking great for the weeks after the Australian Sheep and Wool Show.
"We had the co-ordinator of Sheepvention visit a few days before our show, and I heard they are possibly looking at 1000 quality sheep on display, which is huge."
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