Wether & Ewe Trials


Wether & Ewe Trials

Hazeldean flock takes Crookwell Flock Ewe title 2017

Brian and Helen Anderson, "Lower Sylvia Vale", Binda, have won the ninth annual ANZ Agribusiness Crookwell Flock Ewe competition for the second time in five years. 

Mr Anderson presented 430 Hazeldean-blood maiden Merino ewes to judges Ben Patrick, Yarrawonga stud, Harden and Craig Wilson, Craig Wilson and Associates, Wagga Wagga, to be assessed against 17 other flocks around the Crookwell district. 

Mr Patrick said they were a consistent, even type of sheep - a commercially viable mob of ewes.“They are the the definition of a balanced sheep,” Mr Patrick said. “And they are definitely a good wool cutting sheep.”  

The August/September 2015-drop ewes, shorn in June, were classed by Rick Power, Landmark stud stock, Grenfell. In 2016, 1710 ewes were joined with 1374 lambs marked.  The average fibre diametre for the “Lower “Sylvia Vale “ fleece line is 18.1-micron. 

The Andersons were announced the long wool section winners before being named the overall 2017 champions.

In second place of the long wool section was Daniel Fitzell of “Flowerburn”, Peelwood, who presented a line of September 15-drop Langdene-blood ewes, third place went to Geoff and Debbie Selmes, “Wahronga”, Wheeo, with Royalla-blood ewes and making up the final four was Brad and Maria Cartwright, “Kempton”, Fullerton, with their Thalabah-blood line of ewes.

Rick Power, Landmark stud stock, Grenfell, and classer at "Lower Sylvia Vale", Binda, with Brian Anderson, "Lower Sylvia Vale", the ANZ Agribusinss Crookwell Flock Ewe champions for 2017.

Rick Power, Landmark stud stock, Grenfell, and classer at "Lower Sylvia Vale", Binda, with Brian Anderson, "Lower Sylvia Vale", the ANZ Agribusinss Crookwell Flock Ewe champions for 2017.

Teams 18 & 30 also use Hazeldean Rams

Teams 18 & 30 also use Hazeldean Rams

Michael Field’s Hazeldean-blood wethers win Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge 2014  

A FLOCK of Hazeldean-blood sheep from one of the country’s major wool producers has won Australia’s biggest wether competition.

And there was a spread of $70 between the first and last placed sheep in the Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge, which organisers said was indicative of the flocks’ diversity.

The top team of wethers from Michael Field’s operation at Benangaroo near Jugiong in southern NSW, earned $291.04 per sheep to secure top spot.

The Hazeldean-blood wethers had an average wool return of $54.78 during the two years they were in the competition and this was used to calculate the total wool return of $219.12 over four years.

The wool and a meat value of $71.94 proved the difference for Mr Field. That formula was used to mimic a ewe operation, where ewes are shorn four times and sold at the end of their breeding lives.

The next best grouping was a team from Glendale Partnership from Tottenham in central west NSW, with the Centre Plus-blood wethers returning $287.

Their wool value ($198.10) was lower than the Benangaroo sheep, but they had a greater meat value of $88.90, which pushed them into second place over teams with higher wool values.

The Davidson family from Bairnsdale had a flock of Middle View-blood wethers that finished third, with a return of $283.32.

Event organiser Craig Wilson said that more than 50 teams were currently preparing for the next challenge, which he said would start next month.

Story courtesy Weekly Times, March 2014 - Fiona Myers

In the Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge (Winter Drop), 5 teams out of 20 entered were placed in the high fleeceweight, low micron quadrant. Of these 5 teams, 4 use Hazeldean rams.

red   - teams using Hazeldean Rams  All 4 teams in the winter drop that use Hazeldean bloodlines were ranked in the top 10 for Profit/DSE.  TA Field Estates, the only Hazeldean blood team in the Autumn drop group was ranked 2nd for Profit/DSE

red  - teams using Hazeldean Rams

All 4 teams in the winter drop that use Hazeldean bloodlines were ranked in the top 10 for Profit/DSE.

TA Field Estates, the only Hazeldean blood team in the Autumn drop group was ranked 2nd for Profit/DSE

Hazeldean would like to congratulate all the Hazeldean blood teams who are also excelling in the trial.

Objective measurement delivers finer AND heavier fleeces at TA Field Estates

The use of objective data in the ram selection process has delivered a profitable improvement in the genetics of the TA Field Estates’ Merino flocks, with fleeces now two micron finer on average across the board.

At the same time fleece and body weights have been maintained - and on some properties increased (Wyvern & Benangaroo – using Hazeldean rams) - across flocks totalling more than 40,000 breeding ewes in three locations.

This genetic improvement has ensured the profitability of the TA Field Estates’ sheep and wool activities has been maintained, despite extremes of seasons and on-going increases in input costs.

The TA Field’s business is comprised of three grazing operations: ‘Congi’, near Walcha; Wyvern Station at Carrathool; and ‘Benangaroo’, at Jugiong, all in NSW. Long-term benchmarking has been conducted at each site to provide accurate information on flock performance for the key performance indicators of fibre diameter, fleece and body weight, and cost of production per DSE.

Rams for ‘Benangaroo’ and ‘Wyvern’ are supplied via a contract breeding arrangement with the Litchfield family’s Hazeldean Riverina operation at ‘Rosevale’, Hay.

Mr Field, ‘Wyvern’ manager David Wagstaff,  Hazeldean’s Jim Litchfield and Richard Cannon, and Craig Wilson, of Craig Wilson and Associates all participate in the sire selection process. Each party assesses ASBV data from the Sheep Genetics website against breeding objectives, and then visually assesses the rams identified, before debate begins about final selections.

“We will buy semen from any stud, provided they are heading in the same genetic direction as Hazeldean and stack up in performance,” Mr Field said.

The sires chosen are used in Hazeldean Riverina’s November joining, with the progeny all fully assessed under MERINOSELECT. Commercial rams for the TA Field’s operation are selected from each drop.

The arrangement delivers for both parties, with TA Field Estates having direct input into the genetic selection process, while Hazeldean benefits from both a large-scale commercial buyer and direct access to the performance data of their ram progeny.

More than 150 replacement rams are used each year for the two southern properties, with about 35% of rams replaced annually at ‘Wyvern’ and ‘Benangaroo’.

At ‘Wyvern’ and ‘Benangaroo’ the new Merino Production index (previously the Dual Purpose 7% index) is referenced in ram selection as part of a breeding strategy aimed at increasing fleece and body weight, and further reduce fibre diameter to a target of 18 micron.

At ‘Wyvern’ six years ago the flock averaged 22 micron and 6kg of fleece; it now averages 19.5-20 micron, with the 22,000 purebred Merino ewes cutting 8kg of fleece for a yield of 68-70%, while also lambing at 104%. Similarly, the body weight of young ewes six years ago averaged 44kg and now averages 54kg. 

“The accepted wisdom used to be that fibre diameter was in large part driven by the quality of pasture, but the MERINOSELECT data showed there was a genetic link and our results using ASBVs prove that,” Mr Field said.

“Our aim now is to keep pushing fibre diameter down, while maintaining body weight, fleece weight and staple strength. We want sheep with plainer skin, shorter staple, and more even crimp.

 “We jet our lambs but we don’t jet our ewes over summer as it’s an expense that we can’t justify – we need sheep that can stand up to the environmental conditions.”

As DNA testing nears a commercial reality, Mr Field is keen to include the genomic data being developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) in his breeding program as well.

“Before including Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) in our ram selection process six years ago, we had no other measures to go by other than visual assessment, fibre diameter and wether trial data to inform our decisions,” business principal Michael Field said.

“We believe that the more information we’ve got, the better informed is our decision making process. We now assess ASBVs, fleece data and visual attributes as part of our flock management and ram selection.

“And now that more information is coming through to industry from genomics and DNA research, we will use that too.”

“Genomics is absolutely fascinating. We’re only just touching the tip of the iceberg of the potential and what it can do to the productivity of the Australian Merino,” he said. “The genetic information it offers will help us push our flocks forward and the rate of improvement will only accelerate.”

Story extract courtesy Sheep CRC Oct 2012

Hazeldean Client, TA Field estates achieves 1st place in first shearing of the 2012-2014 Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge wether trial

Temora hosted the country's biggest ever commercial evaluation of merino genetics earlier this month, with TA Fields Estates flock of wethers emerging as the leaders after the latest shearing in the PWMMC 2012-2014.

Pictured: Michael Field , TA Field Estates, with some of his Hazeldean blood sheep at Wyvern, Carrathool

Pictured: Michael Field , TA Field Estates, with some of his Hazeldean blood sheep at Wyvern, Carrathool

The challenge was convened by Craig Wilson and Associates, Wagga Wagga, who has collected data from more than 4000 sheep evaluated at Wagga, Alectown, Warren, Taralga and Temora in the past decade.

Sixty teams of wethers from across NSW, Victoria, SA & Tasmania were entered in the challenge, which has had a second component, the meat chaellenge, added to it in addition to the wool challenge of the previous PWMMC, which ran from 2010 - 2012.

 The TA Field Estates flock, by Hazeldean rams, came from its Jugiong property, "Benangaroo" and made $54.23 per head after cutting 6.6kg of 16.9 micron wool.

The overall average from all teams entered was 6.1kg (greasy) wool weight, 17.5 micron and a value of $45.08 per head, based on a five year average.

A report from the completed meat challenge, where meat traits were measured and analysed across the 60 different teams, identified that some strains of Merinos have up to 28 per cent better growth rates at the same age and under the same nutritional opportunities than other Merinos.

According to Mr. Wilson, the current PWMMC saw not only an increase in the number of entries, but also the quality of the wethers entered.

"For people who have been involved with trials for a long time, their results can become predictable, but for the newcomers, some of the results would have been quite pleasing while others would have been very confronting", he said.

"It's hard to get a handle on the genetic capacity at home, which is why this trial is so important because it is really the only one which goes to the trouble of looking at both sides of the equation. Most entrants would have around 5000 sheep, so this is really representative of nearly 300,000 sheep."

Sally Martin, from Sally Martin Consulting, Young, said the trial was about assisting people in benchmarking their flock to identify their strengths and weaknesses and how they could improve on them to improve their bottom line.

"Key profit drivers are still micron and fleece weight".

Story courtesy The Land - April 18 2013

Hazeldean Merino Clients excel in PWMMC wether trial 2010-2012

Pictured: Tony Hill with Jason Southwell, Classer, and some of his Hazeldean blood sheep

Pictured: Tony Hill with Jason Southwell, Classer, and some of his Hazeldean blood sheep

Having already excelled in 2011, Hazeldean clients finished in the top teams at the end of the PWMMC 2012.

The average GFW of the Hazeldean blood teams was 7.2 kg compared to the average of the rest of the teams of 6.3kg, with body weight averaging 64 kg compared to the average of the other teams at 61kg,  while the average micron was similar.

Average wool value (over 5 yrs) for the Hazeldean teams was $51.00 compared to the overall average of $45.26, while meat value was $78.00 for the Hazeldean teams compared to  $74.82 for the others.

Hazeldean teams made on average:

  • $9.06  per head more than the other teams for total wool & meat value
  • $6.31  net $ per head (DSE) more than the other teams
  • $75.65  net return profit/hectare more than the other teams 

 D Hill & Co. was placed first in the carcase portion of the competition and was second overall. 

Hazeldean Blood Teams Wool $/hd Meat $/hd Total $/hd Net Return Profit/Ha Net $/hd DSE
D & S Eccleston $52.55 $71.86 $124.41 $511.63 $42.64
TA Field Estate Pty Ltd $49.44 $76.88 $126.32 $485.03 $40.42
D Hill & Co. $52.50 $83.99 $136.49 $530.06 $44.17
Average Hazeldean Teams $51.00 $78.00 $129.00 $509.00 $42.00
Average Other Teams $45.26 $74.82 $120.06 $433.25 $36.10
Variance $6.23 $3.28 $9.06 $75.65 $6.31

Hazeldean client wins Crookwell Flock Ewe Competition 2012 

Binda's Top Merino Flock - extract from "The Land" Thursday, February 23, 2012

Brian Anderson wasn't expecting to win the Crookwell Flock Ewe competition this year, but a brief look at his impressive record over the past four years shows why he took it out.

It has been a steady rise to the top of the competition ladder for Brian and Helen Anderson, of "Lower Sylvia Vale", Binda via Crookwell.

In the competitions first year they were placed fifth, and managed to climb to second position the following year.

While not securing a place in the final five last year, this year they continued where they had left off in 2010 by securing first place.  As winners of this year's ANZ Agribusiness Perpetual Trophy for the Crookwell Ewe Competition - the Andersons edged in front of 19 entrants, with particularly strong competition from the five finalists, some of whom have won in previous years.

On the first day of on-property judging - and the second flock to be viewed in the competition - the Andersons presented a total of 460 ewes for inspection, August/September 2012-drop.

In 2011, the fibre diameter of their fleece line measured 19.2 micron, while in 2010 it measured 20.2-micron and 18.8-micron in 2009.

The fibre diameter of their hogget line measured 17-micron in both 2011 and 2010, and 15.9 micron in 2009.

Shearing took place in June last year and the Andersons had sold their wool up to 1380 cents a kilogram and down to 980c/kg. 

Mr. Anderson sourced his rams from Hazeldean at Cooma usually purchasing between six and 10 rams every year.

"They are good heavy cutting rams that suit my sheep very well", he said.

Kevin Coves, Landmark Goulburn, has been the Andersons wool classer for the past 12 years.

Glen and Judy Laverty,  "Fariview" Peelwood, also Hazeldean Merinos clients came 4th.

Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge - 2011

Merino bloodlines committed to performance testing and genetic evaluation have again dominated Australia’s largest single site evaluation of commercial Merino genetics.

Hazeldean client Tony Hill, has emerged from the first shearing and meat valuation of the Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge, to be the outright winner in terms of wool and meat value.

 This is a significant win and demonstrates Hazeldean’s long term commitment to measured profitability in our breeding program and how this translates into extra dollars returned to our clients.

The Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge commenced in April 2010 with a total of 1500 wethers. This challenge has 50 teams of 30 wethers and represents some of the most progressive woolgrowers and influential Merino bloodlines in Australia.

Honouring the late Peter Westblade, a true visionary, epitomising compassion and devotion to a cause who passed away in late 2008, the Merino Challenge is a continuation of the Merino genetic information gathered from the highly successful Craig Wilson Livestock Wether Trials run at Wagga Wagga, Warren, Alectown and Taralga.

All entrants are from commercial operations and include some of Australia’s largest woolgrowers; the challenge has seen half of every team allocated to the Meat Challenge, which had been lot fed and processed at Fletcher International Exports in August 2010.

Shearing of the Wool Challenge sheep occurred over two days on the 7th and 8th of April, having been run together at the Temora Agricultural Research and Advisory Station, for the previous 12 months.

NSW Industries and Investment sheep and wool officers are an integral part of the challenge overseeing all of the tens of thousands of measurements and processing the data.

The gains seen in price for both wool and sheep meat have only exemplified the role of genetics has in making profits.

Sheep and Wool officer Sally Martin said the variation between and within teams shows the opportunities that are available.

Looking at the five year average price there is a variation between $18 and $23 for wool and meat respectively. However the current market widens the gap between teams to over $40 difference for both wool and meat.

Merino genetic consultant and co convener of the Merino Challenge Craig Wilson said the main aim of the challenge is to fully evaluate the entrants flock genetics for wool and meat traits.

“The results from the challenge have confirmed that Merino genetics can deliver very high profit margins for both wool and meat. The high performance teams show that wool growing can outperform other land uses in terms of profit per hectare, with very little risk.”

Mr Wilson said that on current prices, the highest wool value team had generated a gross income of $1720 per hectare. The brothers of these sheep had also performed very well in the Meat Challenge displaying excellent bodies of lamb. The teams that have performed well have a strong track history of performance at other trials in different environments.

“This is the fourth time, some of these teams have now been involved and their relative merit becomes very predictable. It also shows the protocols of the evaluation are robust and consistant.”

“We are not comparing the average of the merino industry, the reality is you wouldn’t enter sheep in Australia’s largest trial if you thought your flock’s genetics where uncompetitive”.

“The package offered by quality merino genetics, has now proven beyond any doubt its capacity to produce superior quality fibre and meat protein.”

Co-convenor of the trial Marty Moses of Moses and Son Woolbrokers said, knowing the relative merits of your Merino genetics must be of the highest importance. This type of objective information is vital for Merino breeders and the industry as a whole in maximising their profit.

“Genetics are the one thing that you have direct control over and this clearly has a large impact on your profitability. To have over 250 people attend the shearing and having several groups of young people involved was fantastic”

Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge - 2011 Wool Challenge Results

Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge - 2011 Wool Challenge Results

Entrant Bloodline Wool Value
5 year %
Meat Value
5 year %
Total Value
5 year %
D Hill & Co. Hazeldean 124% 125% 125%
Equitas-Burrangong Bundilla 113% 120% 117%
KE & JM Pech Barloo/Woodyarrup 110% 118% 114%
P & M Drew Pastora 123% 107% 114%
GA McKenzie & Sons Pooginook 128% 99% 111%