A Bluefaced Leicester fleece entered by Jayne Roberts on behalf of Roberts and son based in Gaerwen in Anglesey has been named the best fleece in the UK, the Golden Fleece, in a competition organised by the British Wool Marketing Board in association with J G Animal Health.
The winning fleece beat strong competition from across the country to be named the Golden Fleece and was one of eight fleeces in the final - two from each home nation, one traditional carpet type and one speciality/knitwear type.
Meanwhile two Northern Ireland sheep were also placed in the BWMB Golden Fleece final, in the carpet section, a Rouge X Texel owned by Mrs D McConnell, Newry, Co Down, and in the Fine/Speciality section a Wensleydale owned by Messrs T H and F Magill, Rathfriland, Co Down.
Ian Buchanan, BWMB chairman said: “This nationwide competition was open to all producers marketing their wool through the BWMB who could enter their fleeces at any of our network of depots across the UK. The champion fleeces from 12 regional agricultural shows were also automatically entered to the four country finals.”
Mark Powell, BWMB chief operating officer, who was judge of the final said the standard of fleeces in the final eight had been exceptional.
He said: “There were some great fleeces on display in the final and I wholeheartedly congratulate all those producers whose fleeces made it this far as well as commending those who entered fleeces but never progressed from the earlier rounds.
“The winning fleece displayed everything I was looking for in terms of style of wool, uniformity of quality, strength of staple, colour and presentation. It was an outstanding entry and clearly from a producer who takes pride in their wool crop,” he added.
Jayne Roberts, 2016 Golden Fleece competition winner said it had been an honour to reach the final let alone win the competition.
“We really didn’t expect to even get this far. We take pride in the wool we produce, but didn’t think we’d have a chance of winning such a prestigious national competition.”
Roberts and son farm 70 Bluefaced Leicester’s along with 1100 Welsh, Suffolk cross and Texel cross mules.
Sponsor Jonathan Guy of J G Animal Health said he’d d been delighted to support the Golden Fleece competition and was impressed by the standard in the final.
He said: “This competition is a great way to showcase the exceptional quality of British wool which is a truly versatile and remarkable fibre.
“A good quality fleece is a clear sign of a healthy, well managed flock and that’s something all sheep farmers should be striving for whatever their system or breed.”
Mr Buchanan added with more than 12 million fleeces being presented at BWMB depots every year, the winner was to be congratulated on their success.
He said: “The quality of the fleeces and presentation was exceptional with all finalists earning their place and congratulated for getting as far as they have. However, there can only be one winner and my congratulations goes to the Roberts family on their success this year.”
Mr Buchanan also confirmed the competition would be running again next year.
He said: “The response to the competition in 2016 has been encouraging and we look forward to working with wool producers and agricultural shows to build on that in 2017.”
Eight exhibitors in the BWMB Golden Fleece final
Northern Ireland - Carpet: Rouge X Texel, Mrs D McConnell, Newry, Co Down
Northern Ireland - Fine/Speciality: Wensleydale, Messrs T H and F Magill, Rathfriland, Co Down
Wales - Fine/Speciality: Bluefaced Leicester, Messrs Roberts and Son, Myfyrian Isaf Farm,Gaerwen, Gwynedd
Wales - Carpet: Mule, Mrs C Lewis, Lampeter, Credigion
England - Carpet: Exmoor Horn, Mr Henry Rawson, Wellshead Farm, Minehead, Somerset
England - Fine/Speciality: Teeswater, Pamela Moorish, Nunthorpe Village, Middlesborough
Scotland - Carpet: Blackface, John A Robertson, Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire
Scotland - Fine/Speciality: Shetland, Mrs W M McEwen-King, Nemphlar, Lanark