SOUTH Australia stamped its mark as the breeding ground of the nation's best strong wool Merino rams, winning the horned and Poll championships at the Australian Sheep & Wool Show last weekend.
The Ashby family, North Ashrose stud, Gulnare, led the charge at Bendigo, Victoria, with its champion strong wool Poll Merino ram progressing through the ranks to grand champion ram of the show - the first time the feat has been achieved by a SA stud.
The ram, Metric, was selected by a panel of seven judges from a field of six Poll and Merino champions, which included a member of the National Pairs winners and ultrafine champion ram - from Grathlyn stud in New South Wales. None of the final line-up were Victorian bred.
Errol Brumpton, Well Gully stud, Mitchell, Queensland, said on behalf of the judges that the ram was a "21st century type of Merino".
"He stands perfectly and is so correct for a large, strong wool. He has great staple length and maintains his white wool to the very lower points, and is just a tremendous example of a strong wool ram."
"There are no signs of swint so he would handle a humid environment easily, and with his constitution he would add conformation to any flock."
The grand champion weighed 153 kilograms just before Bendigo and had exceptional wool test measurements of 20.3 microns with a 2.7 standard deviation, 13.3 coefficient of variation and a comfort factor of 99.7 per cent.
An ET-bred ram, he had proven predictability in his pedigree. He was sired by Western Australian-bred East Strathglen Sir Dick - the 2010 supreme exhibit at Bendigo, and out of a Collinsville Imperial blood daughter.
Metric was just edged out for the show's highest honour of supreme exhibit by a 17.7M ewe from Roseville Park stud, NSW.
It was a role-reversal of the decision made at the Queensland State Sheep Show, where Metric was supreme exhibit over the Roseville Park ewe.
Judge Robert Harding, Glendonald stud, Nhill, Vic, said that although it was a close decision the fine-medium wool ewe was "almost faultless" with beautiful wool carried right down her legs.
"She has a tremendous amount of quality," he said.
North Ashrose stud principal Tom Ashby was "chuffed" that the ET program undertaken in 2010 - and his mating decisions - had produced such a "great animal".
"He has some really good qualities to take the Poll Merino breed forward, especially his pureness of wool," he said.
"He is a big-framed sheep and so correct on his legs. He has tremendous bone and length of body and has pureness around the head and muzzle which continues through the wool from front to back."
The stud has retained Metric but the first of his sons will be offered as North Ashrose's lead ram in its Adelaide Ram Sale team at the Royal Adelaide Show in September. A further six are catalogued for the stud's on-property sale later that month.
*Full report in Stock Journal, July 25 issue, 2013.