It was a beauty pageant with a difference.

Hundreds lined up to be judged but instead of swimsuits they all wore woolly fleeces at the annual West Otago ewe hogget and two-tooth competition last week.

On show were flocks of Romneys and Perendale crosses as a field of 20 farms faced the scrutiny of judges Andrew France, Paul Roulston and Clarke Scott.

Travelling almost 700km during the two days, the judges visited all 20 entrant farms from the wider West Otago region, met the farmers or farm managers, reviewed the story behind each one's breeding and animal management plans, assessed the flocks on offer and recorded their impressions.

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Organiser Mike McElrea said the judges were looking at the flock's features and performance, studying the wool quality, breeding objectives and genotype results.

West Otago A&P society president Craig Tomsett said the competitions were first held more than 25 years ago and he felt they were important for breeders as they sought information from other farmers on how to improve their stock.

Judge Clarke Scott (centre) and Kowai Downs stock manager Shaun Bradley (right) look over the selection. Photo / John Cosgrove
Judge Clarke Scott (centre) and Kowai Downs stock manager Shaun Bradley (right) look over the selection. Photo / John Cosgrove

''The farmer's goal is to breed specific types of sheep with the wool and meat features that suits them.

''When they enter this competition they meet other farmers and in turn offer or pick up little bits of information that help them all develop their flocks.''

He said a win in the West Otago competition is just the start, as all the class winners go on to compete in the Otago Southland regional final later this month, and if successful there they will be in the national final in May.

''It's persistence that gets you a win in this competition, and over the years there have been a few from West Otago who have gone on to secure the national titles,'' he said.

Kowai Downs stock manager Shaun Bradley (27) was competing in his first West Otago competition since moving down from a farming operation in North Canterbury.

''It's a great chance to see how others here breed and manage their flocks.''

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