A 19-month-old Merino ewe from the York Peninsula of South Australia has blazed home to secure the grand champion strong wool title of the show.
Orrie Cowie Merino & Poll Merino stud principal John Dalla, Warooka, SA, said he did not expect to win a sash when he entered his sheep in the Australian Sheep & Wool Show at Bendigo.
"I just try and breed and present them as best I can, that's my philosophy," he said.
"I thought she might struggle a bit because she was six months younger than the ewes she was competing against."
The prize-winning ewe was out of a Casper breeder, a line the stud has used consistently in its stud over the last decade.
Mr Dalla said the line of females produced high-quality wool and well-balanced sheep.
He said the position of strong Merino wool was in a "good spot" on Australia's wool market.
"It has lifted a bit in price and you have the ability to produce fast-growing sheep and heavy cutting," Mr Dalla said.
The SA stud, which brought 21 ewes and rams to Bendigo, was also crowned the most successful strong wool exhibitor of the show.
"It's not the first time we've won it and we've won grand champion strong wool ewe and ram in the past too," he said.
"We also won reserve grand champion strong wool ewe."
Mid-north SA operation Mulloorie Merino & Poll Merino stud, Brinkworth, SA, was awarded the grand champion ram sash in the strong wool class.
"This ram has been an outstanding ram since he was a lamb and he was sired by Mulloorie Elliott," Mulloorie Merino & Poll Merino stud co-principal Darcy Meyer said.
Mr Meyer said the ram had a bold, crimping, strong wool on him and was backed up with a good structure, bone and purity which highlighted his dual-purpose traits.
"We want to breed rams that will produce sires suitable for the pastoral country regions of Australia, particularly because he's a heavy-cutting ram," he said.
"He suits that environment because it's a medium-rainfall area where we're located, so he keeps the dust out in summer and keeps the rain out during the wetter months."
The champion ram was also crowned supreme strong wool exhibit at the Hay, NSW, Sheep Show in June.
Strong wool judge Mitchell Hogg, Navanvale Merino and Poll stud, Williams, WA, said the quality of the class was "unreal".
"There were really rich, bold, gutsy and nourished sheep in the category," Mr Hogg said.
"Overall, the sheep had great structure and you can tell that people have really focused on getting attributes right.
"There is a 100 per cent place for strong wool in Australia and these sheep grow out a bit quicker compared to the finer wools."