Some of the best sheep ewe will see in the country will be on show at the Horowhenua AP&I show this weekend.

The sheep section of the annual AP&I Show remains one of the largest in New Zealand with more than 200 entries across the different categories, from prized rams to prime lambs.

Judges Gilbert and Diana Timms have been sheep farmers all their lives and have been involved with the show for almost as long.

Next year's show will mark 60 years of involvement for the Timms, which started for Gilbert when he was a teenager, and they are both life members and former presidents of the association.

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The sheep farming legacy continues with grandson Corey Prouting also a breeder in his own right, with some fine Southdowns on show.

Timms said the sheep shows still held relevance today and would continue to be an important part of the industry into the future.

Shannon farmers Gilbert and Diana Timms are gearing towards Horowhenua AP&I Show next weekend after more than half a century of involvement.
Shannon farmers Gilbert and Diana Timms are gearing towards Horowhenua AP&I Show next weekend after more than half a century of involvement.

"It's good to show your sheep because it benchmarks them against all other breeders, and you find out if you are up to spec or not," he said.

Timms had enjoyed one of his most successful show years ever this year with a prized ram that had won just about every competition he had entered, including three shows as Supreme Champion.

"You have your ups and downs. You have good sheep and bad sheep," he said.

It was important to service the ewe flock with good genes, and a good, fertile ram was important. But they never put all their eggs in one basket with an unproven ram, in case he was shy or lazy, or his stock were not up to scratch.

There were five breeds of sheep on show this year - Romney, Perendale, Cheviots, Poll Dorsets and Southdown.

A unique feature of the Horowhenua show was the grand parade in the main oval of all animals on the last day.

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"It really is a great facility and that is due to the foresight of our forebears," he said.

"There's a really good team here in Levin. I go to a lot of shows judging and there's great comraderie - a great team here," he said. "The whole show is in good heart."

The prime lamb section was open to all comers and anyone with a lamb was encouraged to enter.

The Timms were grateful for the generosity of the rural community when they started ringing around for fundraising to help with show expenses and ribbons.

The first 14 phone calls asking for gift ewes (a donated sheep) met with positive response, and all proceeds go towards running the shearing and sheep section of the show, and prizes.

"People are great like that," he said.

The show continues in much the same format this year, although one change is the popular Animal Nursery moved to a block south of the arena near the pigs and sheep.

New Zealand's sheep numbers peaked in 1982 at 70 million. Now, numbers were still high at 39 million sheep, just behind Mongolia as the country with the highest sheep-human ratio.

Sheep were introduced into New Zealand between 1773 and 1777, with credit to James Cook.