Harden's Michelle Fairall is chasing gold at the Meat Breeds Sheep Young Judges Competition in Launceston, Tasmania this week.
Up against young judges from across the country, Ms Fairall is hoping to secure the championship at the Agricultural Shows Australia (ASA) national finals.
"My family are absolutely thrilled for me, as well as my mentors that have been there throughout my journey," she said.
A science and agriculture teacher, Ms Fairall began her journey judging cattle at the age of five, before moving onto sheep judging as a pre-teen.
"As a young kid, Tony Starr and people at the Cootamundra and Harden shows really helped me get involved," she said. "It's about being willing to have a go at anything, taking on that constructive feedback and going back to keep building on your skills."
The 24-year-old has refined her skillset, rising through the ranks to secure state judging titles for grains, fruit and vegetables alongside meat breed sheep. This will be her first national competition, facing new breeds and new challenges.
"The quality of sheep is not as high as it's been previously, that could impact what we're seeing down in Tasmania," she said. "There are a lot of heritage breeds which are very different to what is shown in New South Wales. They're going to be very different from what I've experienced...but then you have to just come back to the breed characteristics and try to match them."
Getting back to the basics of what makes a meat breed sheep a winner is a key part of Ms Fairall's judging process.
"When I first look at an animal, I stand back and look at the whole picture, to see which one looks pleasant or appealing to my eye. From there, I can go through structural soundness, making sure the animal can walk and eat, and is for purpose. Then I do a comparison between them to figure out which one I think is the best," she said.
For future judges hoping to get involved, Ms Fairall said it's all about having a go.
"There's definitely a future for judges to come up," she said. "A lot of local shows have junior competitions, people there are willing to help - they want more judges. Go out and witness a show in a local regional area."
The Young Judges' Meat Breed Competition will be held alongside other competitions for beef and dairy cattle, poultry, alpaca, Merino sheep and Merino fleece.
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