Region’s merino excellence going on show

.Otago merino breeders will be hosting international and domestic visitors as part of the Merino Excellence tour in March. Photo: SRL Archives
.Otago merino breeders will be hosting international and domestic visitors as part of the Merino Excellence tour in March. Photo: SRL archives
Central Otago merino studs will be displaying their genetics to visitors from around the world as well as from throughout New Zealand next month.

People from Australia, Argentina, South America, Kazakhstan, Russia and Lesotho are expected to attend the Merino Excellence 2020 Congress in Cromwell on March 12.

Dozens of merino breeders and representatives from associated industries, as well as a coachload of international visitors, are expected to attend.

One of the organisers, Ron Small, of Blairich Station in Marlborough, said New Zealand was invited to host an interim one-day conference and tour, following an unsuccessful bid to host the World Federation of Merino Breeders Association world conference in 2022.

‘‘Overseas delegates are still booking but numbers are down on what we were expecting, particularly from Australia.

‘‘This is understandable with the ongoing drought and wildfires.

‘‘We are encouraging locals to participate as much as possible and the showcase will be the Wanaka A&P Show, where breeders from all over the South Island will be exhibiting sheep.’’

There would be two international judges — Will Roberts, of Queensland, and Michael Gough, of Argentina.

‘‘Also the Wanaka show has enormous trade and fair stalls and rural events that attract tens of thousand visitors, which will be highly entertaining and interesting to foreign visitors.

‘‘There is no specific ram sale but rams will be available via private treaty,’’ he said.

Farm to Farm Tours managing director Ross Macmillan said his company would be taking a coachload of overseas visitors from Christchurch to Marlborough, down the West Coast and back over to Cromwell and through the Maniototo and Twizel.

While in Central Otago there would be trips to Andrew and Francine Hore’s Stonehenge Merino stud and the Paterson family’s Armidale Merino stud, before travelling through to Twizel on March 17.

While in Cromwell attendees will hear keynote speakers, including Dr Mark Ferguson of neXtgen Agri, and Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health NZ Ltd’s head, Steve Rochester, while Prof Jon Hickford will be speaking about genetics.

One of the themes of the congress is ‘‘opportunities available in the merino industry for young people’’ and Emma Subtil, of Omarama, and Matilda Scott, of Tasmania, will be speaking.

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