Woodpark Poll Merino

A dual-purpose focus at Woodpark Poll Merinos pays off

COMMERCIAL DEMAND: Woodpark Poll stud principal Stephen Huggins, Hay, NSW, with a selection of this year’s quality sale rams.

When it comes to maximising returns, the Woodpark Poll Merino stud’s dual emphasis on quality wool – and plenty of it – along with carcase merit, has been core to their breeding decisions.

And what stud principals Stephen and Carol Huggins see in their own flock is reflected in their clients’ operations, producers who want to boost profitability across their entire Merino enterprise.

Based in the western Riverina of NSW, a strong sheep meat market and historically high fine wool prices has delivered the perfect marketing environment for the stud.

The operation comprises about 2800 Poll Merino stud ewes which are run alongside a self-replacing flock of 5500 commercial Merino ewes across two properties at Hay and Balmoral in western Victoria.

According to Mr Huggins, the stud has focused its efforts on breeding a well-balanced, robust sheep with carcase traits and a productive, heavy-cutting quality fleece.

“The current strong market for fine wool and the solid market for surplus sheep and lambs is really bringing the productivity of our sheep to the fore,” he said.

“We are consistently producing a large-framed 70 to 80 kilogram sheep, with a wool cut of 7.5 to 8.5kg on an 18-micron fleece, with the combination of a heavy carcase and large quantities of finer end wool being characteristics which set our stud apart.

“People make the assumption that you can’t do high productivity combined with fine wool.

“But we’re shearing $100 per head fleeces and our commercial clients regularly top surplus sheep sales around the country due to their scale and carcase attributes.

“People also link high fleece weights with complicated sheep that are hard to shear, but our sheep are plain-bodied with high fibre density and good, white wools that are easy combing.”

Long-term results from the prestigious Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge placed the stud’s genetics as the most commercially profitable in the competition’s history.

Hr Huggins said combined carcase and fleece data analysis from the wether trial in 2021, showed that over the trial’s 17 years, evaluating more than 400 flocks across 50 bloodlines, the Woodpark Poll-blood sheep returned the highest value per head.

“Client outcomes are the best indicator of our stud’s performance, so the results from the Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge are very exciting,” he said.

Woodpark Poll carry out extensive internal and external data analysis and benchmarking through Sheep Genetics, wether trials and industry evaluation. They have also introduced genomic testing of their flock to help quantify the accuracy of the traits being measured.

“We place emphasis on traits including clean fleece weight, micron, growth, reproduction and muscle and positive fat which is very important for productivity and lamb survival,” Mr Huggins said.

“We have DNA-tested our rams for more than five years, and are now undertaking genomic testing across all our stud ewes which will mean our entire flock will be fully-pedigreed. Before this season’s lambing, 1000 ewes were DNA-tested.”

The Huggins family pride themselves on producing a consistent, even type of sheep, preferring to naturally mate their ewes using their own sires. Artificial insemination is carried out when seeking a specific trait or for genetic linkage.

“The depth and consistency in our sheep is important for our clients who are looking for repeatable, reliable performance, often across a large number of rams,” Mr Huggins said.

“Because we haven’t got a vast amount of outside genetics floating around, people can have confidence knowing the ram they are looking at is exactly how it will breed.

“Demonstrating the consistency of our genetics, this year we shore 5500 two to seven year-old ewes and they averaged 7.8kg at 17.8 micron. Across the whole aged clip there was only one micron spread between the finest line and the broadest line.”

Woodpark Poll genetics have proven they are adaptable to a range of environments with buyers coming from throughout southern and western NSW, as well as Queensland and Victoria.

“We sell rams to Longreach, Wilcannia and Nyngan, but also sell them in high rainfall areas including Hamilton, Gippsland and Boorowa,” Mr Huggins said.

“We don’t try to breed different sheep for different areas, we are breeding the right sheep that can go anywhere and that is demonstrated by the client base that we have across Australia.

“The rams have got white, waxy, well-nourished wools, with good mobile skins that can withstand wet weather as well as repel dust and keep the yields up in dry conditions.”

Woodpark Poll will offer 150 rams at their annual sale on Monday, September 19, at the Jerilderie Racecourse, NSW, and via AuctionsPlus.

Another 800, fully-measured grade rams, including 200 August-drop rams, are also available for private selection.

Kylie Nicholls – Farm Online

© 2024 Woodpark Poll Merino | website design and development by Circle Media