COVID-19 has taken its toll on many events, but three major Merino field days are set to proceed next month.
Organisers of the Eyre Peninsula, South East and Mallee events say the cancellation of the Australian Sheep & Wool Show and Hamilton Sheepvention, both in Vic, has made it even more important to give studs a chance to display rams for their upcoming sales.
The EP Stud Merino and Poll Merino Pre-Sale Expo is the only event to change its format.
Instead of gathering at the Wudinna Showground on Monday July 6, about 14 studs will hold on-property displays across two days the following week.
EPSMBA president Chris Prime says the upper EP studs will open their gates on Monday July 13 and southern EP studs the following day, Tuesday July 14.
"It is up to each stud what they choose to display, but we are anticipating most studs will be similar to what they normally take to Wudinna," he said.
"Closer to sale date they may hold another day to give people a chance to look at all their rams without the pressure of sale day.
"Merinos, even more so than meat sheep, can't just be measured with the visual selection and feel of the wool coming into it, you can't get that from photos.
"We are trying to work through this like everyone else. Some people may question whether a ram sale is essential, but for those that want to keep breeding sheep, it is very essential."
Mr Prime expects ram sales will remain "robust", although the averages may be slightly lower with the drop in the wool market.
The following week the SE Stud Merino Field Day will proceed as normal on Wednesday, July 22, although COVID-19 restrictions will limit visitor numbers at the Keith Showground.
President Ryan Kluska says there has been strong interest from interstate and four new exhibitors, two of these from the EP.
Anyone that comes, we are encouraging to download the COVID-19 app and we ask people to be patient with only 75 people in the main venue at one time looking at sheep.
"We have been keen to have a field day and have been waiting to see how restrictions progressed," he said. "It will be one of the first field days like this for the year."
Thirty four studs will display their sheep at the showground, along with two on-property locations, Moorundie at Keith and Glenlea Park at Wirrega.
"Anyone that comes, we are encouraging to download the COVID-19 app and we ask people to be patient with only 75 people in the main venue at one time looking at sheep," Mr Kluska said.
"We have a second shed where we hope to have seven to 10 studs and the Tintinara Lions Club will be providing lunch in another area."
Mr Kluska is hopeful sales will be similar to 2019 on the strength of surplus sheep sales and buoyant mutton prices.
"The beauty of the SA Merino is that meat qualities are one of the main attributes of them," he said.
Karoonda & Districts Stud Merino Association president Grant Johnson anticipates their event will go ahead on July 31 at the Murray Bridge Showground, with 11 Mallee, SE and YP studs participating.
"The overwhelming response from our members has been not to cancel unless we had to and we have every confidence that the (Murray Bridge) council will open up venues by then," he said.
"All our members are keen to market their rams in the traditional manner and it will be good for people to get out and about."
Mr Johnson says the fact it is a smaller crowd than some other field days gives the group the confidence it can manage the physical distancing requirements.
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