A superfine fleece exhibited by Dinga Dingi, a property on Grogan Road out of Stockinbingal, won the 2022 Show’s grand champion fleece ribbon.

As could be expected the 5.5 kilogram fleece also had the highest estimated commercial value of any fleece, at $76.23.

The Show’s wool steward, David Thompson, said there were only 25 fleeces exhibited this year, compared with the normal 45-50 merino fleeces, and there were no cross-breed fleeces whereas there are normally around 12-15.

“Covid has meant there hasn’t been a chance to exhibit since 2019, and obviously some growers have got out of the way of it,” he said.

The winning fleece’s fine 16-17 micron fibres will probably be bought for the European market, and end up in a garment such as an Italian suit.

“Dinga Dingi have the finest wool in the district, most of the other fleeces are a little coarser to the touch, in the 18-19 micron range,” David said.

“It’s been a good year so far with prices holding up and the quality hasn’t so far been affected by the rain. “It probably will be as the weather warms up — bacteria can breed in the wool causing fleece rot and discolouration.” The fleeces in the Show were mostly shorn about a month ago, although David said shearing happens any time during the year these days.

“Shearing was traditionally done in the springtime which is ideal because it’s just prior to the grass starting to set seeds and before the blow flies become active, so your sheep go into the danger period with very little wool on them,” he said.

“The shortage of shearers these days means you’ve just got to get them shorn when you can, they don’t follow the season around the country like they used to. “Back in the early 1980s there were 170 million sheep in the country, now we’re back to 70-80 million.”

Tom Gosling