Ulster Wool has launched its 2018 ‘Golden Fleece’ competition, designed to showcase the exceptional quality of wool in the region.

Registered producers can enter the competition through British Wool’s network of 11 grading depots.

Qualifying fleece competitions will also be held at 17 agricultural shows across the UK during 2018.

Northern Ireland venues for the competition include Castlewellan Show and Limavady Show.

The competition aims to showcase the exceptional qualities of wool, highlighting the importance of fleece presentation in maximising the value of wool.

Co. Down man takes national title

Last year’s winning Mourne Blackface fleece was exhibited by Sam McConnell from Newry, Co. Down.

The national champion fleece was described as “an excellent example of the breed, displaying incredible uniformity throughout – a characteristic rated highly in fleece competitions”.

McConnell said: “Winning the 2017 competition meant a lot to me. I’ve been attending shows since I was a child, and my family has always entered competitions.

“I pride myself on producing the highest quality fleeces, so receiving the champion 2017 Golden Fleece title was a great achievement for me personally.”

Judging will take place across three stages, with finalists invited to a presentation ceremony in Bradford in December, all receiving a £125 product voucher from JG Animal Health.

The 2018 National Golden Fleece Champion will receive a competition salver and £1,000 prize money. The Reserve Champion will receive £500.

Brendan Kelly, Ulster Wool chairman, said: “The Golden Fleece competition is designed to showcase the exceptional quality of wool, and we’re expecting incredibly high standards again this year.

“Being selected as one of the best exhibiting fleeces in your country is something to be immensely proud of – but taking home the title of National Golden Fleece Champion really is the ultimate accolade of superb quality wool.”

Ulster Wool, based in Antrim, is a joint venture between British Wool and Ulster Wool Growers; an Ulster farmers’ cooperative.

Ulster Wool collects, grades, sells and promotes the province’s wool to the international textile industry for use in flooring, furnishings and apparel.

Competition entry forms are available from the Ulster Wool grading depot. For full competition rules, as well as a list of eligible shows contact Ulster Wool on: 028-9446-2131; or on: [email protected].