Next generation of judges

Michael R Williams

In the lead-up to the Muttaburra Stock Show, students were given the opportunity to learn how to judge merino sheep, with the hopes the adolescents would go on to become the next generation of wool producers in the region.

The lesson was the brainchild of the late Beverley Rea, who unfortunately passed before witnessing her vision come to fruition.

However, the wool and sheep judging has been named in her honour, a sign of her commitment to the wool culture in the west.

Her survived husband, Ralph Rea said after meeting at the Brisbane exhibition they bought a place in Muttaburra.

They came to Muttaburra when the effects of the wool market crash were in full swing.

“We learned to judge when we were kids,” he said.

“Now we want to help the next generation.”

Elders sheep and wool specialist Duncan Ferguson said the event was “an absolute credit to the Muttaburra Stock and Sheep Show”.

“The Fish family and the committee to get this started for the first time – I would like to applaud them in organising this,” he said.

“Also to Ralph Rea and his late with Beverley in her involvement.”

Mr Ferguson said it was a great initiative and that it was invigorating to see the young ones.

After teaching the junior sheep judging, Mr Ferguson said his aims were to give the young people a better appreciation of sheep.

“It’s about getting the better points and the lesser points in the sheep,” he said.

“How to handle the sheep, put their hands on the sheep, and appreciate the sheep.

“Then we had a junior judging school as such.”

Mr Ferguson said he was amazed with the speed in which the students learned.

“It’s good to see the young blood coming through,” he said.

“It gives me hope for the future.

“It’s a great idea to get these people started so they can go to the other shows, the Muttaburra Stock Show, Isisford, Longreach, and the Barcaldine – and maybe even the state sheep shows in Cunnamulla this year, and maybe on further.”

Sub-committee member Sarah Fish said Ms Rea’s vision was to “fill a gap” in the wool industry in the west.

“The cattle industry had junior judging workshops, and the wool industry didn’t have any at that stage,” she said.

“We thought as a committee, we’d trial running one here.”

Another committee member, Kate Webb said the event had been a lot of interest from children of varying ages.

“It was ranging from eight to 21 at the oldest,” she said.

“If there’s enough interest next year, we’d like to run it next year.”