NZ Ewe Hogget competition function heads north for the first time to Napier
The winner of the New Zealand Ewe Hogget Competition will be unveiled for the first time in the North Island.
Starting as a small Southland/Otago competition 21 years ago, it has become a national icon for sheep farming, but never before has the awards dinner been held outside of the South island.
Competition convener Stephen Rabbidge, of Wyndham, said he was looking forward to a bigger response from North Island entrants.
For the past two years the competition has been won by Southland farmers, with Lumsden farmers Phillipa and Willie Menlove winning last year.
"You don't necessarily enter these things to win but I guarantee you certainly will learn and improve."
Putting his convenor obligations to one side, Rabbidge still wanted a Southlander to take the top prize: "hopefully we'll repeat the success of the last two years".
While the competition has adapted from its original four sections for performance, flock evenness, wool and size and condition to keep up with the changes in the sheep industry, its objectives remained the same, Rabbidge said.
"The key objective of the competition hasn't really changed over the years. It's to select the flock replacements that are most likely to be the most productive and profitable over their lifetime."
The Southland/West Otago competitions have already begun, with Northern Southland and West Otago already completed.
However, competitors are still able to enter the national competition. North Island entries have to be in by April 10 and South Island entries by April 21.
Rabbidge said the committee was hoping last year's 250 entires from throughout the country would be repeated.
The judging of the competition is based on flock performance. There are six sections: fine wools, romney, perendale, coopworth, crossbred and composite (three or more crosses). Hogget mating is not compulsory.
Points will be awarded on production (50 per cent), phenotype (20 per cent), breeding objectives (15 per cent) and wool quality (15 per cent).
Farmers must enter a minimum of of 200 hoggets into the competition and have the option to cull 20 per cent of the flock before judging.
The awards dinner will be held at the East Pier Hotel, in Napier, on June 8.