Gippsland Sheep Breeders Associations’ 2020 two-year Merino Wether wool production trial was officially completed last month, with the final sheering taking place on Friday, April 21, at East Gippsland Field Days.

Sixteen woolgrowers across Gippsland and northeastern Victoria entered teams of five Merino Wethers in the two-year wool production trial in 2020, with all sheep run on the Gippsland Agricultural Group site adjacent to the Bairnsdale Aerodrome, for the entirety of the trial.

In late April, the opening day of the 2023 East Gippsland Field Days, teams descended upon the Bairnsdale Aerodrome for the second and final sheering of the two-year Merino Wether wool production trial.

A total of 80 sheep were shorn on day one of East Gippsland Field Days, as part of the Gippsland Sheep Breeders Associations’ 2020 two-year Merino Wether wool production trial. Photos: Zoe Askew

Nutrien Ag Solutions Gippsland Wool Manager and member of the Gippsland Sheep Breeders Association Donald Rash explained that pre-shearing, mid-side samples are tested for fibre diameter (micron), length, strength, and yield, with sheep weighed and valued to determine the most productive sheep/teams.

“The trial is a comparison of wool values for each sheep,” Mr Rash said.

“Fleeces are valued, the pieces are valued, the bellies are valued for each sheep, and you get a total [score] for each sheep in each team, and the higher the value, that range of sheep wins.

“As this was the final shearing of this trial, sheep were weighed post-shearing, and a carcase value applied.”

While teams of five sheep are entered into the Gippsland Sheep Breeders Association trial, sponsored by Nutrien Ag Solutions, only four are valued as part of the final result.

“Each grower puts in a team of five sheep, they select their cull, which isn’t calculated in the end result, so it’s a bit of a guessing competition involved as well,” Mr Rash said.

“So only the four sheep growers pick out are valued in the trial.”

Laying out the freshly shorn sheep fleece before weighing.

Russell and Marg Bennett of Everton Upper won the Overall Fleece Award and the Freeman Lett Trophy for Most Valuable Fleece, valued at $130.85; this sheep won the same award at the 2022 shearing.

The Everton Upper pair also placed first in the 2023 Shearing category with an average sheep wool value of $120.26.

Toongabbie’s Paulett family placed second with an average sheep wool value of $111.03, and Giffard West’s Ivan and Di Best placed third with an average sheep wool value of $101.49.

Woodside’s Jenny Foat and family took out the Most Valuable Group Carcase Award with an average of $86.85.

David and Lyn Yates from Goon Nure placed second with an average carcase value of $85.40, while Ivan and Di Best came third with an average carcase value of $83.42.

Trevor Bennett from Everton Upper won the Breeder Ranking Competition, with Gordon Moon from Wulgulmerang and Alister Micallef from Bairnsdale placing equal-second.

Final touches before the fleece is weighed.

The Gippsland Sheep Breeders Association is considering team entrants of five or 10, preferably Merino Wethers, 2022 drop, for their next trial, with five sheep shorn at eight months, three times over two years and five at 12 months.

Gippsland Sheep Breeders Association president John Freeman says this would ideally help provide helpful comparisons of costs and income of two separate shearing programmes.

If interested, please contact as soon as possible, either John Freeman at 0407 685 228 or Madi Gallagher, Gippsland Sheep Breeders Association secretary, at 0497 842 949.