JUDGING in the world's biggest Merino flock ewe competition switches south of Hay today.
Entrants will present their best 2010-drop ewes. Yesterday more than 100 NSW and Victorian visitors enjoyed a smorgasboard of management styles when visiting four pastoral properties taking part in this year's competition.
Designed for commercial wool growers, the competition is showcasing up to 10,000 Riverina bred 2010-drop classed-up ewes.
Event secretary Stacey Lugsdin said the competition covers 1000km of the western Riverina over the two days, visiting 10 pastoral properties.
Judges Ian Evans, Deniliquin, Cam Munro, Warren, and Dale Bruns, Beeac, inspected four flocks north of Hay in the Mossgiel and Hillston districts yesterday.
They included Yandembah and Tholloloboy, of Hillston, and Strathavon and Bronte, of Mossgiel.
Today the judging focus moves to flocks in the famed Wanganella district, home to the original Peppin Merino.
Under the spotlight will be more than 6000 ewes at Croidon, Yeadon, Budgewah, Mungadal, Ramsay and Millabong stations.
David and Barbara Butcher, Bronte, Mossgiel, left a lasting impression on visitors yesterday with their display.
Their 2010-drop ewes were classed by Ian Wilcox, Swan Hill, on August 15 with 950 kept from a total of 1400.
"The wool off these ewes totalled 6500kg with fleeces and pieces averaging 810c/kg," Mr Butcher said.
The 20-micron wool had a vegetable matter of 4.7 per cent, 63 per cent yield and a staple length of 103mm.
For the past four years, the couple have recorded an average lamb marking percentage of 105.
Peppin-Shaw president David Rankin said the event had revealed a return interest in the Merino.
"This region is having a good season and the ewes are showing up in great condition," Mr Rankin said.
"There is a lot of younger people attending and this is certainly positive for the Merino industry."
First time entrants Roger and Jackie Job, of Tholloloboy, Hillston, displayed their Sims Uardry blood ewes.
"I wanted to try and learn something and improve the sheep," Mr Job said.
"I have lived here for 25 years and was always too busy crutching when the Peppin Shaw was on.
"But, we have changed our management after a disastrous lambing.
"We have gone from shearing in August to April, and lambing in May-June."
Mr Job said the aim was to grow bigger, plainer sheep while maintaining wool quality.
Entrant Mick Huntly, of Strathavon, Mossgiel, was pleased to see wide support from wool growers for the Peppin Shaw.
"It's great to see the country looking so good," Mr Huntly said.
"This would be a surprise to some technocrats who said in 2005 it would take 20 years for this country to get back from drought.
"It only takes one good rain at the right time and she turns around real quick."