Ben Hartwich (22) from Bullygrogran (Ararat), Victoria and Patrick Davis (18) from Harden, New South Wales have taken out Australia's top spot in the Agricultural Shows Australiayoung merino sheep judging championship for 2021 and 2022 respectively, at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Agricultural Shows Australia (ASA) staged the national championships of young judges and paraders competitions with finalists from each state of Australia and New Zealand.
Runner up for 2021 was Campbell Rubie (18) from Forbes, New South Wales and third was Sym Hood (19) from Longford, Tasmania.
Runner up for 2022 was Ashley Meaburn (20) from Runnymed, Tasmania and third was Phillipa Hacker (24) from "Roselea" Muckadilla, Queensland.
The Merino sheep and fleece judging competitions are sponsored by Australian Wool Innovation.
Judging is objective, while there are characteristics about an animal to look for, what the judges will be paying close attention to is how clearly competitors express their decision and how they validate it. A competitor's appearance is also important and judges can mark down for poor presentation.
The national championships are held in a different location each year. This year, the Sydney Royal Easter Show, celebrating its bicentenary, will host the 2022 championships including the 2021 finalists who were unable to compete at Ekka due to covid cancellations.
The National judges and paraders competition brings together the best young judges and paraders aged from 15 to 25 in each state to compete at the national finals. Qualification is via success in competitive regional and state competitions.
Overall there are nine categories for judging and parading each year under the Agricultural Shows Australia national competition program: beef cattle, dairy cattle, alpaca, poultry, Merino sheep, meat breed sheep and Merino fleece judging, as well as parading competitions in beef and dairy cattle.
Dr. Rob Wilson is chairman of ASA, the peak body overseeing 572 agricultural shows in Australia which attract six million visitors annually and contribute nearly $1billion to the national economy. Rob says the competition is designed to recognise the best new talent in livestock judging nationwide.
"It's an extremely prestigious event and positions at the nationals are keenly contested," Dr. Wilson explains.
"These young people are the future of agricultural show competitions which are crucial to the continual improvement of Australia's food and fibre. The national competition is a coveted opportunity to grow personally and professionally by practising skills against the cream of the crop."
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