A six-tooth ultra fine ewe bred by George and Helen McKenzie of Montrose Hill stud, Illabarook, Victoria, was named the supreme exhibit from 853 Merino and Poll Merino sheep entered in the 2018 Australian Sheep and Wool Show.
But what made this win so spectacular was the McKenzie’s have never in their lives won anything as big as this.
“This is the biggest thing I have won in 33 years…..maybe the most important thing I have ever won,” Mr McKenzie said.
“I’ve won a few major grand championships around country shows and got to the final draft a few times here, but I have never won anything like this at Bendigo against 800 other sheep.
“To get over the line and win the supreme has been a long time coming.”
The 15.5-micron ewe, who is heavy in lamb with twins, impressed the judges who said she was “the complete package”.
With other fleece measurements of 2.7 standard deviation (SD) and comfort factor of 99.7 per cent, she is by a Montrose Hill’s home bred sire, 032 – a superfine ram that was sashed champion super fine ram at Bendigo two years ago.
Mr McKenzie remembers the day she first took his eye.
“I was drenching 650 ewes and she looked a million dollars coming down the race,” he said.
“It was two days before March tagging and we were crutching at the time. I took her inside, she got shorn and we tagged her the next day.”
Ultra fine judge James Collins of Mt Bute stud, Linton, Victoria, who started her journey to the top by placing her first in her four-tooth class, said he couldn’t fault her.
“Her wool was sweet from the head to the tail,” Mr Collins said.
“And the underneath was as good as it was on top.
“She is a structurally perfect sheep.”
Mr McKenzie said the short term plans are to take her to Dubbo National Show and Sale at the end of August, but that will all depend on the opinion of experts.
“With her so heavy in lamb, expected to drop early September, we will be consulting a vet to determine whether or not she will be able to travel,” Mr McKenzie said.
The only thing that could have stopped the Montrose Hill ewe from taking the top accolade was the upstanding Langdene ram bred by the Cox family of Dunedoo, NSW, that was named grand champion ram of ASWS just moments before.
The fine wool ram with a fibre diameter of 20.8-micron, and part of the winning National pair, was described by fine wool judge John Roberts as a tremendous sire with a great spring of rib and beautiful soft wool.
But in the end result, it was the ewe that made it all the way to supreme.
Mr McKenzie, with an unassuming nature, said he was never expecting to win.
“I’ve never bred to win prizes – they have just been a luxury along the way. I must admit the last 10 minutes has been the greatest luxury I have ever had,” he said.