FARMERS who market their wool through British Wool have been invited to enter their best fleeces into 2017's National Golden Fleece competition.

Producers can enter through the network of 11 grading depots up to the end of October, while various qualifying fleece competitions have already been held at 14 agricultural shows across the UK this summer.

Country competitions will now follow, and the winning fleeces from these will be automatically entered into the final, to be judged by British Wool sales manager Stephen Spencer at the British Wool annual conference of regional committee representatives, in Exeter, on Wednesday, November 8.

The winner of the competition will be given a competition salver, alongside £500 prize money, while the reserve champion will receive £250.

Last year’s winning fleece came from a Bluefaced Leicester, exhibited by Jayne and Myrfyn Roberts, from Gaerwen, Anglesey.

Speaking ahead of this year’s national competition, managing director of JG Animal Health Jonathan Guy said: “This is a very exciting and important competition for the industry that we are delighted to be involved with, and we are expecting strong entries throughout the qualifying rounds. It is unquestionable that Stephen will have his work cut out in judging the final rounds.”

For British Wool, the show season is soon coming to a close, so it is keen to encourage producers to enter their fleeces through their local grading depot by Tuesday October 31. A maximum of two fleeces per producer can be entered. These fleeces must be packaged separately to the remainder of the wool clip and be accompanied by a completed entry form. All individuals involved in the chain from intermediate depots and collection points to on farm collections, are making allowances for these separately packed fleeces.

On receipt of the competition entry, the fleece will be allocated to the appropriate category of the competition, either traditional carpet fleece or speciality/knitwear fleece.

Ahead of the final judging, the winning fleeces from each country will be put forward to the second round. All eight country finalists will be invited to attend the presentation ceremony and will each receive a prize of £125 in product vouchers from JG Animal Health. This round culminates with an overall champion from each category being selected to be judged against each other, and the final round will see both exhibits competing to pick up the title of 2017 British Wool National Golden Fleece Champion.

The selected fleeces from Scotland in 2016 were a carpet fleece from a Blackface, exhibited by John A Robertson, and a speciality/knitwear fleece, from a Shetland, exhibited by the McEwen-King family. Mrs McEwen-King said: “Robin and I were extremely proud to represent Scotland in the final Golden Fleece competition last year. We hope to be entering again this year so will give it our best shot.

“We have been working to improve the quality of our wool for the last 25 years and are passionate about encouraging others to do so too," she added. "We try to inspire other people to think about their wool and see that it does have some value. We were delighted when the Golden Fleece competition was resurrected last year as it gives producers an incentive to improve and take pride in their wool.”

Judge Mr Spencer said: “Competitions such as these really do highlight the outstanding quality of British wool and it is rewarding for producers to gain some recognition for this. Following a successful inaugural year last year, we are expecting a very high calibre of entries.

“To get through to the second round and be selected as one of the best exhibiting fleeces in Scotland is something to be immensely proud of, however to take home the title of British Wool National Golden Fleece Champion really is the is the ultimate accolade of superb quality wool for wool producers across the UK.”

British Wool’s Donald Fraser, board member for North Scotland, said “This is an important competition for both British Wool and its producers, with entries being received the length and breadth of the country.

"We are actively encouraging producers in Scotland to enter their fleeces and showcase the exceptional high quality of British wool.”

Full competition rules, as well as a list of eligible shows and British Wool grading depots, can be found on