BENDIGO'S showgrounds were humming as crowds of people prepared for the Australian Sheep and Wool Show on Thursday.
Farmers and breeders had come from all over the country, to show their animals, fleece, and maybe sell a sheep or two.
Australia's best wool was on show at the Australian Fleece Competition.
About 145 odd growers had entered 364 odd fleeces.
Competition assistant Athol Frederick said entries represented some of the best wool in the country, about half of which came from stud breeders, and half from commercial.
Mr Frederick said modern genetics had dramatically changed the wool industry.
Where it faced a crisis 20 years ago, breeding techniques had begun to produce a better product.
These techniques had brought down the micron numbers in wool, making it softer, appealing more to consumers, he said.
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Rare breeds were among the sheep on show. These animals are a remnants of a time before sheep had been heavily bred for certain characteristics.
Marilyn Mangione of Strathbogie had brought her Shropshire, a breed dating from the start of the 1800s, brought to Australia as early as 1855.
She has kept the mixed meat and wool breed since 2000, because they're medium sized and easy to look after, very good for orchards, and get a good fat lamb when mated with other breeds.
Marilyn Mangione describes the rare Shropshire breed.
There are just 14 Shropshire breeders and maybe 300 breeding ewes in the country, she said.
Rare sheep keepers just care about the unique breeds, and want to keep the genetics going, she said.
Ms Mangione said people did not know about the special traits of the older breeds of sheep.
"Sheep like the old breeds ...once they're gone, they're gone," Ms Mangione said.
Byaduk farmer Ian Christie had brought his Lincoln sheep, which his family has kept since 1873.
Deemed a lustre wool, the Lincolns have to be washed before they are shorn. Their wool grows at about an inch a month if they're fed well.
Mr Christie keeps about 50 of the sheep on as a bit of a tradition, more of a hobby than anything else.
He has commercial sheep, prime lambs as his main line of business, but said the older breeds of sheep had genetic qualities which occasionally came into high demand.
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