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Beyond the Bale : December 2015
ON FARM 37 Participation in a community wild dog control group has helped Penny and Fraser Barry reduce predation on the historic 4,000 hectare Bindi Station in East Gippsland. Students from agricultural colleges in Western Australia have competed in the second running of the AWI Future Sheep Breeders Challenge run by the Stud Merino Breeders' Association of WA (SMBAWA). Teams from the WA Colleges of Agriculture in Cunderdin, Harvey and Narrogin, as well as from Esperance Senior High School's Farm Training Centre gathered at the Perth Show in September to compete in the wether competition. Earlier in the year, in March, each team chose six wethers from Hyfield Merino stud in Kojonup for the competition. Industry experts were on hand to advise the students on classing and the nutrition and environment requirements to optimise the condition of wool, wool cut and bodyweight. Over the following six months the teams prepared the sheep for the competition in Perth, at which the top four wethers were presented by each team. The Challenge involved wether measurement and preparation competitions that were judged by the president of the SMBAWA Steven Bolt of ‘Claypans’ at Corrigin and committee member Grantly Mullan of ‘Eastville Park’ at Dudinin. The top honours went to the all-female team from the WA College of Agriculture Narrogin that had the best combined scores out of both classes. Second and third places were taken out by the WA Colleges of Agriculture in Cunderdin and Harvey respectively. The Narrogin team comprised Year 10 student Melanie Were of Kellerberrin, Year 11 students and twin sisters Lauren and Kirrily Rayner of Brookton and Year 12 student Paula Hardingham of Kojonup. Mr Bolt said the Challenge provides an opportunity for the next generation of sheep breeders in Western Australia to get actively involved with the Merino sheep industry. “The Stud Merino Breeders' Association here in WA had over the years observed the success of similar initiatives around the country, such as those in South Australia and at Dubbo in NSW, and wanted a competition that would fit Western Australia,” he said. “With support from AWI, we now have this Merino wether competition, for which the students have shown a lot of enthusiasm. They have put a lot of hard work into presenting the wethers. The initiative has opened their eyes to the raft of different opportunities there are in the wool industry.” The SMBAWA also held in August – again with AWI support – the Katanning Schools Challenge in which participating Agricultural Colleges each sent a team of eight students to the competition at the Katanning Sheep Show, with two students each taking part in four categories: Merino sheep classing, prime lamb assessment, shearing and wool handling. AWI’s Stuart Hodgson judged the Merino sheep classing at Katanning with assistance from WA sheep classer Hugh Warden, with other industry specialists acting as judges in the relevant categories. “It is the first time the Katanning Schools Challenge has been run and full credit must go to Stephen Bolt and his hard working committee for running both this event and the AWI Future Sheep Breeders Challenge,” Stuart said. “They are both very worthwhile initiatives that AWI was pleased to support. A very pleasing aspect is that they are very hands-on and practical, with the Western Australian students very enthusiastic and willing to learn.” WA AG STUDENTS GET HANDS-ON WITH MERINOS The Stud Merino Breeders' Association of WA with support from AWI is helping Agricultural College students from Western Australia become more involved with the Merino sheep industry by holding competitions to further their practical skills. The winner of the AWI Future Sheep Breeders Challenge was WA College of Agriculture Narrogin – represented by students Melanie Were, Paula Hardingham, and sisters Lauren and Kirrily Reyner, pictured with the WA Stud Merino Breeders’ Association's Grantly Mullan and Steven Bolt with AWI director David Webster.
In the Shops - March 2016