A global pandemic couldn't keep the crowds away from the Elders SA Stud Merino Expo at the Burra Oval on Tuesday.
On display were 28 Merino and Poll Merino stud exhibitors from across the state, showcasing their genetics, including stud sires and potential sale rams.
This was after 11 studs opened their gates on Monday, with strong sales reported.
The stud's general manager Tim Dalla said it was good to sell all of the spring-drop rams into five states in such a challenging year.
Many studs participated in the judging at the expo, determined by Steve Phillips, Yarrawonga stud, Harden, NSW, who has judged at royal shows across the country, while Troy Fischer, Ashmore White Suffolk stud, Wasleys, officiated the meat component of the All Purpose Pair judging.
Taking out the day's Ram of the Year was the Meyer family's Mulloorie stud, Brinkworth, which had two Poll Merino rams and a Merino in the top six of the judging.
The stud had previously won the accolade two years ago with another Poll Merino ram - Mulloorie Elliot.
Mulloorie stud principal Paul Meyer was pretty happy to have three finalists in the top six - the other poll came third, while the Merino was in sixth place.
But he said the winning AI-bred White River 546-blood ram had "always looked the part of a champion".
"It has always been that big, upstanding, long-bodied type, even as a lamb," he said.
"It has good sirey wool, good skin, purity of muzzle, square behind and stood well on the day."
The 18-month-old champion ram, out of a special stud Mulloorie Kenny-blood ewe, weighed 125 kilograms and had a 22.1 micron fleece with 3.4 standard deviation, 15.4 coefficient of variation and 98.5 per cent comfort factor.
Mr Meyer said the ram would be kept for the stud's show team and would be considered for AI purposes in the future.
Mr Phillips said it was a "perfect" line-up of 17 rams, but was "most impressed" with the Mulloorie winner.
"The champion ram was very pure and hard to fault," he said.
"It was a tremendous sheep with beautiful soft lustrous wool, beautiful skin and good conformation."
Mr Phillips said the ram stood out over a horned entry from the Greenfields stud, Hallett, in runner-up.
"The runner-up, which was the ram in the best pair, was a great sheep but just didn't have the staple length or coverage of the Ram of the Year," he said.
GREENFIELDS TO RETURN AS REP IN NATIONAL PAIRS
Back to represent SA in the National Pairs competition during the Australian Sheep & Wool Show at Bendigo, Vic, in July will be the Sullivan family from the Greenfields stud, who were again awarded the championship pair - the fifth win in the past six years.
Mr Phillips had 20 pairs to judge overall, which he cut down to a top six.
"It is a magnificent line-up of pairs, there wasn't much in it," he said.
"The ewe in the winning group was what got Greenfields over the line.
"They were a true pair, with very good wool qualities, both very big upstanding sheep - a tremendous pair."
Greenfields stud co-principal Robert Sullivan said the 23-month-old ram was a son of Greenfields Lofty - an impressive show winner in 2018 - while the ewe was a bloodline from WA stud Mianelup.
The 152kg ram had a 21.4M fleece with 3.4SD, 15.8CV and 99CF.
"The ram will go on to the Royal Adelaide Show - if that still goes ahead," he said.
Mulloorie stud came runner-up in the national pairs, with North Ashrose stud, Gulnare, in third.
GOOD CARCASE VALUES BEHIND WOOLCUTTERS
THE other class of the day was the All Purpose Pair of Ram Lambs, which was won by the Dahlitz family, Roemahkita stud, Cummins, ahead of four other entries.
Roemahkita had won the section - which judges sheep on both wool and meat traits and measurements, plus a visual assessment - three times before.
An elated Joe Dahlitz said the April 2019-drop rams were both descendants of Collinsville Premier with "good make and shape with good wool".
One weighed 106kg, with 6.6 eye muscle depth, 40.9 fat depth, 19.5M, 3.3SD, 16.8CV and 99.7CF, while the other weighed 91kg, with 5.4EMD, 39.9fat, 18.5M, 3.1SD, 16.5CV and 99.8CF.
Mr Phillips said the winning pair just showed "great carcase attributes, with long bodies, stretch and super soft wool on them".
"They were a very even pair," he said.
"The pair in second place were also very heavy woolcutters, with good quality, but just didn't have as much carcase value."
While Mr Fischer said the top pair were very even, with "no weak link".
"They had good carcases, good measurements, plenty of meat in the right places," he said.
"They paraded well and were just structurally superior over the rest."
North Ashrose placed both second with a horned pair and third with a poll pair.
Merino SA president Nick Wadlow said it was a very successful expo, evidenced by the great turnout of people.
"We were pleased to see people still get out and support the industry, particularly from interstate," he said.
"The sheep represented the true SA type and they keep improving every year, particularly in their evenness across the studs and how good the body structure and wools were.
"The expo certainly showcased the buoyancy of the industry at the moment."
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