Peter & Jayne Lette from Conrayn Merino Stud, Berridale, NSW, have won the prestigious Grand Champion prize at this year’s Australian Fleece Competition.
This is the second Grand Champion title awarded to Conrayn Merino Stud, who previously won in 2010, which was the competitions 10th anniversary. To top off their achievement, Peter & Jayne also won this year’s Reserve Champion award.
Lette Family - Winners of the 2021 Australian Fleece Competition
The Australian Fleece Competition is the largest fully measured fleece competition in the world, attracting more than 400 entries from 145 exhibiters.
The competition is a joint effort by the Australian Sheep Breeders Association (ASBA), Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) & Nutrien Ag Solutions, and is run in conjunction with the Australian Sheep and Wool Show, which was scheduled to be held in Bendigo from Friday 16 July to Sunday 18 July 2021 but was regrettably cancelled at the last minute due to a COVID Lockdown.
Almost two thirds of the fleeces on show were donated by exhibitors to be auctioned at the completion of the competition, with all proceeds donated to a different nominated charity each year. Since it’s inception, more than $178K dollars has been raised.
Almost two thirds of the fleeces on show were donated by exhibitors to be auctioned at the completion of the competition, with all proceeds donated to a different nominated charity each year. Since its inception, more than $178K dollars has been raised. This year’s nominated charity is the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
The Grand Champion 17.8 micron fleece was in the Superfine Merino Stud Ram class, and scored 94.52 out of a possible 100 points.
Jayne Lette from Conrayn Merino Stud said that she was thrilled to receive the award. “Peter and I couldn’t believe it when we were told that we had won, and to receive the Reserve Champion award as well was a great surprise” she said.
The Conrayn Merino Stud Reserve Champion fleece was in the Superfine Merino Stud Ewe or Wether class, measuring 17.7 micron, achieving 94.43 points.
The Champion Commercial fleece was exhibited by L & M Harris, from Costerfield, Victoria, with a 20.1 micron fleece entered in the Fine Medium Merino Ewe / Wether section, scoring an impressive 92.83 points.
Judges for this year’s competition were Mr Josh Lamb, Director, Endeavour Wool Exports, and Mr Ian Shawcross, Nutrien / Arcadian Wool in Geelong, Victoria.
Mr Shawcross praised the standard of entries this year, with the winning fleece in a number of classes prevailing by only a fraction of a point. “Any one of four or five entries could have easily won each section, as well as the Grand Champion” he said.
Exporter judge, Mr Josh Lamb, highlighted the differences from when he judged the competition in 2019 “ The previous competition certainly reflected the conditions at the time, with a large number of commercial entries impacted by lower yields & lower tensile strength. This year, we could see a major turnaround, again reflecting the better conditions in most areas. Processing requirements & purchase price are dictated by a number of factors, but strength & yield are key indicators” Mr Lamb said.
Competition convener, Nutrien Wool’s Candice Cordy, said that she was proud to reach a great milestone this year, celebrating 20 years of the competition.“After the disappointment of cancelling the competition in 2020 due to Covid restrictions, it is wonderful to see the support from sponsors & exhibitors hasn’t waned, if anything we have seen the competition expand in its 20th year” Ms Cordy said.
Ms Cordy also pointed out the Commercial Value component of the competition, giving woolgrowers a snapshot of current trends, and offering a valuable tool to assist in decision making regarding flock management & direction.
Supported by 26 sponsors, the competition offers $17,000 in prizes, with the Grand Champion fleece exhibitor collecting a $2000 travel voucher sponsored by Nutrien Wool and Gallagher.
JD & RE Humbert, Kedleston Park, were this year’s winners of the Performance Class, which caters for exhibitors shearing in six to eight-month cycles commercially, The Performance Class was extremely well supported, with growers keenly monitoring the outcome.
This year’s nominated charity is the Motor Neurone Disease Association whose vision is Working towards a world without MND.
“MND Victoria have been closely involved in this year’s competition, and part of their mission is to provide the best possible care & support for people living with MND. Hopefully this is a little closer due the generous support of the woolgrowers involved in the fleece competition” Ms Cordy said.