AN EYE for sound, high yielding fleeces with good crimp definition, has seen young Barossa woolclasser Caitlin Heppner declared the national winner of the Merino Fleece Young Judges Championship.
The 19-year-old from Nuriootpa claimed the top accolade at the Royal Melbourne Show last week, continuing her unbeaten run of six wins from six fleece judging competitions.
“Crystal Brook Show last year was my first competition and since then I have had some fantastic results,” she said.
She attributes her success to the experience gained in her tafeSA Certificate 4 in Woolclassing last year.
“It has taught me the basic principles – length, strength, quality, colour, character and condition,” she said.
“I look for a sound fleece with plenty of weight and nice, bright, wool pencilly staple.”
Ms Heppner is hopeful her win will raise her profile as a woolclasser and build her run of shearing sheds in the local area.
“Because I am so young people think of me more as a shed hand, but I know wool,” she said.
As a 10-year-old Ms Heppner visited Portee Station, Blanchetown, with her parents to watch the Australian shearing and woolhandling team train.
She says it was a life-changing moment.
“It was the first time I had seen shearing and since then I have loved wool.”