Sheep shows provide a visual public forum for the display and comparison of individual animals from many different studs. They are a meeting point for studmasters, classers, young Merino enthusiasts, wool brokers, agents and commercial sheep breeders.
The benefits of being able to be part of such an event, either as an organiser, participant or public critic are numerous; in addition, there are enormous opportunities for professional and social interaction and education, with awards for excellence in Merino breeding.
There is no other event or opportunity that provides such a variety of competition across all ranges and types of the Australian Merino Breed: from ultrafine wool through to the broadest of the Strong Wool types, with increasing production classes for the ‘all purpose’ attributes that the resilient and versatile Merino is known for.
Merino judges appointed by the various organisers are, in the main, stud masters themselves, and offer an opinion, on the day, of the Merino sheep presented by their peers on the judging floor.
There are lists of judges from the various state Merino bodies; these are available from this website under the state listings.
Fairness in competition
For the major sheep shows in Australia, all Merino show sheep are either March or August shorn, inspected and tagged to comply with national regulation standards set by the AASMB. The recommended test house for mid-side wool samples for the major shows is the Australian Wool Testing Authority Limited and these samples are independently collected by representatives of the state stud Merino Breeders associations within a nominated time frame from the show. (See the Recommendations section for further information.)
Comparison of statistics and the actual outcome
In the Merino industry there now abounds a huge compilation of statistical data and analysis on any individual sheep due to national benchmarking. This information does not however describe the visuals of the sheep or consider its suitability for particular farming pursuits or environments.
In contrast in the show ring, most of the data provided is ‘raw’ objective data that collates with the subjective visual appraisal of the sheep being shown.
Along with ram purchases, many stud breeders now routinely purchase a variety of semen for their flocks. For those who have been following a particular bloodline or sire line and who have been studying the additional statistical data, it is important to be able to inspect the actual sheep or its progeny and compare against other high ranking animals. Sheep shows provide an ideal opportunity to do this in an independent environment.
The Merino Circuit
Whilst there are hundreds of opportunities to inspect and participate in Merino shows and field days/open days around the country there is a traditional circuit of the major exhibitions in each state that continues to exist:
- Sydney – Easter
- Queensland State Sheep Show – May
- Campbell Town, Tasmanian State Sheep Show – May/June
- Australian Sheep & Wool Show – July (formerly Melbourne Sheep Show)
- Adelaide Royal - September
- Perth Royal – September/October
More information is available on show dates; refer to the events items for specific information or the state calendars.
AUSTRALIAN MERINO PAIRS COMPETITION
Australian Sheep & Wool Show, Bendigo
ROSEVILLE PARK, Dubbo, NSW
GREENFIELDS, Hallet, SA
AUSTRALIAN SUPREME MERINO RAM
Dubbo Merino Sheep Show
Roseville Park, Dubbo NSW
Wurrook, Rokewood, Vic
Performance/Production Classes at State Shows:
Production classes have been encouraged during the last few years to display and demonstrate the "all purpose" characteristics of the Australian Merino. AWI has supported this extension of using objective measurement in production classes and this support is appreciated.
Queensland State Sheep Show
In 2014 the Queensland state sheep show at Barcaldine undertook pilot production classes for both ewes and rams using the "All Purpose" judging established by the ASWS in Victoria some years ago. In 2015 Queensland “All purpose” classes of rams and ewes were held at Goondiwindi. Sheep are judged on both objective measurements for wool and meat and on physical attributes for wool and conformation. They are not shorn to allow the sheep to go on to be exhibited at other venues.
Campbell Town Tasmania
In 2015 the state sheep show at Campbell Town introduced pilot production classes for both ewes and rams using the "All Purpose" judging established by the ASWS in Victoria some years ago. Sheep are judged on both objective measurements for wool and meat and on physical attributes for wool and conformation. They are not shorn to allow the sheep to go on to be exhibited at other venues.
Objective Measurement classes for Merino and Poll Merino. Sheep are shorn and then judged at the show using objective measurement for both wool and meat and conformation attributes. Judging criteria: The sheep are lined up after being shorn and judged for breed type, structure and soundness for a maximum of 150 points. A maximum of 150 points for objective measurement are divided between maximum weight, ultrasound measurement, eye muscle measurement, fleece staple strength (N/KT) and co-efficient variation (%) of fibre diameter. The allocation for fleece commercial value is 200 points, making the total points 500.
2013 Results - 2-4tooth ram class 1: Darriwell Merino Stud, Trundle NSW; 2: Grassy Creek, Reids Flat NSW; 3: One Oak, Jerilderie NSW.
2013 Results - 2-4tooth ewe class 1: One Oak, Jerilderie NSW; 2: One Oak, Jerilderie NSW; Alfoxton, Armidale NSW.
2013 Results - 6 tooth+ ram class 1: Merryville, Boorowa NSW; 2: Demondrille, Harden NSW; 3: Nerstane, Walcha NSW.
2013 Results - 6 tooth+ ewe class 1: Greenland, Bungarby NSW; Nerstane, Walcha NSW; 3: Nerstane, Walcha NSW.
2015 Results - Overall Champion Objective Measurement - West Plains Poll Merino Stud, Delegate, NSW.
Dubbo NSW: Performance Ram Class
Judged on frame and conformation; body weight (kg); fat depth (mm); eye muscle depth (mm); staple strength; CV (%) and fleece value.
2012 Result - 1: One Oak, Jerilderie NSW; 2: Nerstane, Woolbrook NSW.
Open to regulation shorn sheep that are professionally prepared and exhibiting profitable, processor-preferred wools. Judging covers ram in full wool, 100 points (15% of final score); fleece, 250 points (40% of final score); objectively measured traits, 250 points (40% of final score); ram out of wool, 50 points (5% of final score).
This class is for Merino and Poll Merino rams out of Show Classes showing four or more teeth (over two years). Sheep are shorn and then judged at the show for breed type, structure and soundness. Points are awarded out of wool for body weight and eye muscle. Fleece quality is judged on staple strength, co-efficient variation (%) and commercial value.
Australian Sheep & Wool Show, Bendigo VIC
All Purpose Classes for short wool (March shorn) fine, medium and strongwool rams for both lambs teeth and two teeth. A maximum of 100 points are divided equally with 25 points for objective carcase measurements, 25 points for objective fleece sample measurements, 25 points for visual carcase judging and 25 points for visual wool judging. The Champion and Reserve Champion All Purpose Australian Merino are chosen by the two judges from the three highest point scores from the six classes.
Champion: Belka Valley, WA;
Reserve Champion: Glendonald, Vic.
2015 Results - Champion: Terrick West Poll Merino, Vic Reserve Champion: