Fine wool Merino sheep made headlines for all the right reasons at the Australian Sheep & Wool Show on Saturday after the wool class went on to claim supreme exhibit of the show.
Langdene Merino stud, Dundeoo, NSW, won the grand champion fine wool title two hours before the stud went on to win the supreme exhibit of the iconic event.
Langdene Merino stud principal Garry Cox said he was quite pleased to make it through to the pointy end of the show with his two-year-old, six-teeth horned ram.
"It's the finer details and all the breeding that goes into these rams because he's a sheep that we're trying to breed," Mr Cox said.
"The wool length, the staple length and the structure of the animal are all traits we're trying to display in our rams."
The ram attracted accolades from the judges because of its balanced dual-purpose traits for meat and wool, with a fleece measurement of 17 micron.
"He tested very well, but it's not only his wool because his meat and structure side are excellent too, so he's a pretty unique ram for an animal that size," Mr Cox said.
"He has an excellent nature and he stands up very well."
The stud was started by Mr Cox's parents in 1981 and is now run by him and his wife, Kel, who usually sell 200-odd rams a year during their on-property September sale in spring.
The Langdene stud also won reserve champion fine wool horned ram earlier in the day.
David Zouch and Avalon McGrath, Hollow Mount Merino stud, Bigga, NSW, won the grand champion fine wool sash with their Merino ewe.
"She's a 16.1-micron ewe with a 99.9 per cent comfort factor and very good SD figures and she's just a very feminine sheep with a beautiful white wool," Mr Zouch said.
"She is a lovely looking ewe and I think you'd go a long way to find another one like her."
Meanwhile, the reserve champion fine wool ram of the show was won by Rangeview Poll Merino stud which made the voyage across the Nullarbor Plain from Darkan, WA, with its polled ram.
Rangeview Poll Merino stud principal Jeremy King said fine wool studs in the west were scarce, so it was an ideal opportunity to benchmark his sheep against other Australian studs.
"For me, I liked the quality of his wool, especially for a young sheep because it's hard to get such a good frame and high-quality wool," Mr King said.
"Merinos have always been considered as a dual-purpose animal, and we're really working on those carcase traits to go along with that quality wool.
"There's been a big improvement with the breed, not only with our sheep, but the Merino breed in general because carcase traits are terrific."
The WA stud has built a strong clientele base in eastern Australia, mainly in the high-rainfall areas of Victoria and NSW, which includes commercial breeders who are "prepared to take a chance" with fine wool, Mr King said.
Fine wool judge Kip Gray, Stockman Poll Merino stud, Melton Mowbrae, Tas, said the dual-purpose traits were highlights of both the grand and reserve champions.
"The grand champion had an exceptional outlook with 17.6 micron and body weight with 144 kilos and for that sort of quality wool with that sort of structure was perfect," he said.
"He was square on his feet, had a great horn setting, was very pure throughout muscle and ewes and was a very impressive sheep.
"The poll reserve from Rangeview had tremendous wool with pearly white fleece and beautiful skin, but stopped short of where the horned ram was on the day."