Woodpark Poll rams reach $6000 thrice, average $3602

There was no letting up for bidders at the Woodpark Poll 2021 annual ram sale on Monday, the depth of the draft leading to stiff competition throughout the Jerilderie stud’s entire catalogue.

There were 146 of 150 rams offered sold for a very healthy average of $3602 and top price of $6000, reached three times including within the last five lots of the day.

Return volume buyers from the high-rainfall districts of Victoria, to outback Queensland, were able to fill their orders and some even left with a couple more than planned on board.

Woodpark Poll principal Stephen Huggins said it was always his hope that clients would be able to pay good, consistent prices for rams throughout the sale.

“My hope is that people don’t have to push too hard on one because there will be another equally as good,” Mr Huggins said. “That seems to have been how it’s played out and I’m delighted.”

All three top-priced rams were picked out by Merino genetics consultant Craig Wilson for his clients.

The $6000 price tag was achieved right off the bat for the first lot in the catalogue – McCorkell Pastoral, Hamilton, Vic, purchasing WP Poll 20-899.

The homozygous poll ram, with 19.1 microns, was by 16-527, a heavy-cutting wool sire with a deep barrelled body.

“He’s going down to a higher rainfall at Hamilton, so we’re pretty picky on the quality of the wool that goes down there,” Mr Wilson said.

“He’s got a beautiful fibre on him and really good growth, he should fit in really well.”

He was one of 10 McCorkell Pastoral bought on the day.

The next top-priced ram was heading in the opposite direction – WP Poll 20-081, bought by Jimenbuen Pastoral Company, Dalgety for $6000.

Another homozygous poll, this 18.5 micron ram was by 16-058, a big bodied, square ram with bold white wool.

His progeny, 20-081, showed off a yearling weight of 9.2 and yearling fleece weight of 26.4 with indexes of 171 (Merino Plus) and 160 (Dual Purpose) in the top five per cent.

Mr Wilson said the ram came from a highly benchmarked flock.

“We know a lot about them through the wether trials and competitions that we run,” Mr Wilson said. “He’s by an industry leading sire and just has a beautiful set of figures, with quite outstanding indexes – he’s also structurally correct with magnificent wool so it made it easy to buy him.”

There were several bidders waiting all sale for the final top-priced ram to go under the hammer – WP Poll 20-255 one of the last sires of the day to be offered and was snapped by return buyers, Reids Flat stud, Grassy Creek Merinos.

The ram had an industry-leading yearling eye muscle depth value of 2.5 (top five per cent), with a YWT of 8.0 and YCFW of 22.7 to go with it. The impressive figures calculated into an MP index of 162 and DP index of 151.

“He had a tremendous eye muscle, he physically looked wide and deep and his numbers showed that,” Mr Huggins said. “He’s got a tick in every box and a 16 micron fleece as well.”

He was by 18-238, an “exceptionally well muscled” ram with extra width, depth and an EMD of 2.6.

Other top sales included WP Poll 20-913, who had MP and DP indexes in the top five per cent, and was purchased by MV Ag, Mountain View, Alectown for $5800.

He was one of 11 they bought at the auction. MV Ag’s Peter Ungar said they had been buying from Woodpark for several years and they were chasing finer micron, heavy cutting sheep for their mixed farming enterprise.

Volume buyers on the day included Budgewah Pastoral Company, Hay, who took home 15 and Paula Deans, Longreach, Queensland who nabbed 14 via AuctionsPlus.

Ms Deans said she had been buying Woodpark Poll rams for the last five years.

“We have marginal rainfall, not much shade…they’re sort of up against it, but they’re going extremely well up here,” Ms Deans said.

“I was looking for good upstanding rams that will handle the conditions I know they’re coming into – I like uncomplicated rams, not too many wrinkles, an easy maintenance ram.”

The sale was conducted by Elders Jerilderie and Nutrien Finley, with Tim Woodham (Nutrien), Nick Gray (Elders) and Harry Cousens (Elders). It was interfaced by AuctionsPlus.

– Olivia Calver, The Land.


Woodpark Poll Merinos boost profits

Commercial clients of Woodpark Poll Merinos are reaping the benefits of its dual-purpose focus, with long-term results from the Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge confirming the stud’s genetics as the most profitable in the competition.

Combined carcase and fleece data analysis by the convenor of the Peter Westblade wether trial showed that their bloodlines finished on top in terms of value per head over the entire 17-year life of the trial.

In the most recent Peter Westblade Memorial wether trial, which is the largest in Australia, one of the stud’s clients, the Mulquiny family from Wooroonook, Vic, were named the most profitable team with their Woodpark Poll-blood sheep.

Their wethers performed well in both the meat and wool components, with their mutton the most valuable in the competition at $17.66 above the average of $164.21/hd.

The overall value of the Mulquiny’s flock was $25.64 above the trial average of $233.53/hd (prices based on a two-and-a-half year average).

The Huggins family have a long history of breeding Merino sheep, and have been running their Poll Merino stud for more than 40 years.

Stephen and Carol Huggins currently run about 2000 stud Poll Merino ewes and a self-replacing flock of 5000 commercial ewes across two properties at Hay in the western Riverina of NSW and Balmoral in western Victoria.

“For us, client outcomes are the best indicator of our stud’s performance, so the results from the Peter Westblade wether trial are very exciting,” Mr Huggins said.

“Our focus is on breeding well-balanced sheep with depth of body, squareness and easy doing-ability on a functional and fertile frame to meet market demand.

“We are producing the type of sheep we would like in our own commercial flock.

“We are breeding a large-framed 75 to 80 kilogram sheep, producing 8.5kg of 18 micron wool, which is unusual for the Riverina.”

The family uses data collection, internal and external benchmarking through Sheep Genetics, DNA testing of their flock and client performance to quantify the results of their breeding and selection program.

“We place emphasis on traits including clean fleece weight, micron, growth, muscle and positive fat which is very important in a dry environment, helping with productivity and lamb survival,” Mr Huggins said.

“We are also interested in eye muscle shape, which translates to a meaty, well-shaped carcase.

“This year has really brought home how important it is to get a good quantity of high value wool.

“But we can’t ever forget about their carcase attributes because that gives you fertility and a reliable, dual-purpose sheep.”

Rigorous classing of sheep is also carried out with structural soundness and resilience key attributes of the Woodpark Poll flock.

“We have been using performance measurements for about 15 years to help quantify our selection decisions,” he said.

“But a visual appraisal still comes first. Every time they are in the yards, they will be assessed.”

The Huggins family mostly prefers to naturally mate all their ewes using their own home-bred sires.

Artificial insemination will only be carried out when they are seeking a specific trait or for genetic linkage.

“We are very selective about what we bring into the stud and this strict criteria has given us a very consistent, even type of sheep,” he said.

“This is important for our clients. They are looking for the same quality, repeatability and predictability often across a large number of rams.”

The Woodpark Poll rams have proven they are adaptable to a range of climates with buyers coming from throughout southern and western NSW, as well as interstate interest from Queensland and high rainfall areas in Victoria.

They currently sell about 600 to 800 rams each year, with 140 offered at their annual sale on September 20.

A selection of grade rams will be available from October onwards.

– Kylie Nicholls, The Land.


Sale Report – 2020

Woodpark Poll rams exceeded all expectations at our 2020 annual ram sale in Jerilderie. Out of 140 penned rams, 137 were sold at the auction with 10 more sold in the following days. Overall the sale averaged a $500 jump on last year’s prices. Tupra Pastoral secured the top priced ram for the sale, paying $13,000. Tupra’s owner Fergus McLachlan and manager Mick Flattery snatched up ram number 81, who had the highest index figures in the catalogue.

Their ram was a 19.8-micron poll, son of the stud’s leading sire, 16058 with a yearling weaning weight of 10.8, MP of 177 and dual-purpose index of 166. This particular ram was an August drop, bringing a fresh start to the sale that stood out amongst others, hence being in the top 5% of the stud. He has also been used for several artificial insemination studs for his index numbers and wool characteristics. Buyers chasing both affordable and quality stud rams secured a ram fit for their purpose from prices, $1600 to $13000.

Significant buyers included Coghill farming trust who picked 7 high performing rams, their highest paid ram was a 17.6 micron poll whose dual-purpose index was 146 and yearling weight 7.7. Mccorkell Pastoral and Klepend Pty secured 9 rams each, with Mccorkell buying number 19, 18.3 micron and a dual-purpose index of 137. Klepend Pty similarly snatched up ram number 119, with a 19.4-micron, 5.0 yearling weight and a 137 dual-purpose index. The Kreutzberger family bought five rams at the sale, all consistent numbers including ram 41, whose dual index of 145 and 20.6 micron stood out in the sale. The Houston family, ‘Budgewah Pastoral Co’, operated at the sale and selected privately, securing 10 rams altogether, varying 122 to 146 in dual-purpose index and their top yearling weight being 6.5. Other volume private buyers included the Ryan family, ‘The Homestead’, Butchers at ‘Bronte’ Mossgel, and the Armstrongs, ‘Corynnia’, who picked their most profitable rams.

For more than 16 years Woodpark Poll rams have provided sheep farmers from all over Australia with rams whose versatility and productivity thrive in various climates and environments. Through constantly updated technologies and strategies like ASBVs and genetic modifications, the stud prioritises their client’s desirable traits in a ram.

Overall, we hope everyone enjoyed the day and thank you to all our current and future clients for supporting us. We look forward to seeing you on September 21st in Jerilderie next year (2021).


Mulquinys measure success in wether trial

A Merino enterprise started six years ago with the purchase of surplus Woodpark Poll 1.5yo sale ewes and 6yo ewes, joined to a mix of the stud’s auction and grade rams, has topped the PWMMC, Australia’s largest wether trial. The Mulquiny family’s, Wooroonook, Vic, origin wether team had an average wool and carcase value of $205 a head, which was $10 than the next highest-value team.

  • Highest average return in Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge for wether team entered by Mulquiny family, Wooroonook, Vic.
  • $205 / head combined wool and carcase result
  • $10/head above next highest ranked team
  • Highest carcase value
  • Highest Rampower DP ranking
  • Third highest wool return – 7.1kg GFW of 16.2 micron wool
  • Second highest Rampower FP and MP rank
  • Australia’s largest commercial Merino evaluation
  • 40 entrants in total
  • Mulquinys started breeding six years ago
  • Established flock with 110 6-year-old Woodpark Poll ewes and Woodpark grade and auction rams
  • Added Woodpark Poll-bred 1.5yo ewes from Jerilderie sale following year
  • Liked elite wool and doing ability

The Mulquiny family of Wooronook, near Charlton’s, wether team, averaged $205/head, rewarding their focus on quality, and drive for a balance of wool and carcase, at the most recent shearing and carcase appraisal of the Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge.

The Mulquinys started their breeding operation when Harrison and Lachlan Mulquiny approached Stephen Huggins to buy Woodpark Poll 6yo ewes, six years ago. The following year they added a run of surplus one and a half year old Woodpark Poll-bred commercial ewes at the feature Jerilderie September Merino sale the following year, each year joining them to Woodpark Poll rams initially from the grades then the auction.

Their PWMMC result came from the wethers highest carcase value (and highest weight) of the trial, combined with its 16.2 micron and 7.1kg greasy fleece weight average wool, netting the second highest fleece weight and value in their age group, and the third highest wool value in the trial. The team also ranked highest on the Rampower DP index and the second highest on both the MP and FP index.

WMMC convenor Craig Wilson, Craig Wilson, said it was “no surprise” the team had “compared so well in the PWMMC, Australia’s largest evaluation of commercial Merino genetics.”

In a report by The Land in June, Mr Wilson said: “They are a great example of what you can do, because they didn’t even have sheep six years ago they just went out and bought really good quality ewes and rams.”

“We liked the elite wool and their doing ability and I just liked the look of the sheep – square, boxy and their fertility so we’ve got more scope to get the genetic gain quicker,” Mr Mulquiny told The Land.


With a change of bloodlines this Western District flock hit the ground running

Howard McCorkell, his family and manager Jamie Burns run more than 7000 Merino and Composite sheep on the McCorkell’s property in 650mm rainfall country west of Hamilton.

After taking over his family’s property and flock more than seven years ago, and on the advice of his sheep consultant Craig Wilson, Mr McCorkell injected Woodpark Poll genetics in a bid to lift wool cut and body size while maintaining the existing wool quality on his flock. The Weekly Times spoke with Mr McCorkell about his results, in June this year.

“Diversification for Western District farmer Howard McCorkell comes in the form of running two different breeds of sheep.”

Despite his country being in the heartland of composites more than half the 7000 ewes he joins are Merinos.

“…(He) said it was the numbers that stacked up when it came to maintaining the Merinos as many others in the district were opting to go down the opposite path.”

“We wanted sheep with a good body and good wools. It was an interesting decision given that we were taking sheep from the Riverina to the Western District but the young rams have handled it well.”

Howard initially bought about 20 flock rams which still had ASBVs but allowed him to build up ram numbers of similar type without going to auction. Since then, he has started operating at the stud’s annual auction.

“We wanted more depth and body in our sheep which would give us better (more profitable) options when it came to selling them,” Mr McCorkell told The Weekly Times.

“Several joinings down the track the influence of the new bloodline has done exactly what they’d hoped and something they didn’t expect.

“Wool cuts have risen by 20 to 30 percent.

“This has had a huge impact on the Merino enterprise in the livestock operation as there was simply more wool to sell.

But micron has remained steady.

“Even with the boom in lamb prices, the comparable marked increase in wool prices combined with the now higher wool cut in his sheep see Merinos outclassing the composites for the past couple of years when the enterprises are benchmarked.”

“We had thought that we would lose the fineness in the flock but we haven’t changed much, if at all.

“We were in the 16-18 micron range and we have stayed there.”

“The impact on body size has made their sheep more attractive to sell as mutton, with stock now consigned direct to the abattoirs and sold on a grid basis.

The McCorkells measure their Merinos through use of ASBVS for selection, internal benchmarking by consultants and measures such as entering wether trials.

“I was lucky to have bought a good flock of sheep that my parents had worked hard on and have been able to use these as a base to make an even more productive flock.”

– Fiona Myers, The Weekly Times June 5, 2019


Hamilton Rams Tell A Productive Story

The two pens of five Poll rams we will offer at Hamilton Sheepvention are notable both for their figures.

The rams are all trait leaders (top 10 per cent of industry) for the DP index. Eight are also trait leaders for the MP index.

They are characterised by their outstanding growth weights – nine of the 10 are industry trait leaders for yearling weights; while having finer microns.

We feel this is an ideal ram for today’s conditions, with a wonderful wool market rewarding finer micron, productive sheep and a big lift in the 17 micron range, and also able to deliver growth when growing season moisture is at a minimum.

The rams number 10 in total (two pens of five) and are ideally suited to the type of sheep the district demands, with quality, soft handling, finer microning wool with all the productive traits we aim for.

Each pen again offers a distinctive type across the pen and the rams would stand among the top end of our annual auction.

We look forward to presenting the rams at Hamilton and welcome any questions you may have.


Poll Position

Steve & Carol Huggins’ Merino sheep are true to type – their type
Writes James Wagstaff
When it comes to breeding Merino sheep, Steve & Carol Huggins don’t adhere to mob mentality.
On the vast, sun-drenched plains of the NSW western Riverina, a region steeped in Merino history, the principals of Woodpark poll stud are well aware that tradition doesn’t necessarily pay the bills.
So, through a scientific, no-non-sense approach, they are paving the way forward with their own “type” of sheep.
And the result speak for themselves; in recent years they have maintained lambing rates at an impressive 120 per cent, lifted wool cuts to more than 8kg and, since 2012, have increased the number of rams they sell by more than 60 per cent.

WOODPARK Poll was founded in the mid-1980s by Steve’s uncles and aunt, Doug, Owen and Helen Huggins, at Jerilderie.
With no client base to be guided by, or pressure to breed a certain type, the Huggins were able to set up their own type of animal.
“At the time there wasn’t the depth of poll sheep in the industry,” Steve said. “You couldn’t go out, like you can now, and say ‘well I’m looking for this’ and go and select it. They really thought that to get anywhere we’ll need to do it ourselves”.
Last year, the 2015-drop flock averaged 8.2kg of 18.2-micron wool while the entire drop of ewes – from two year olds to seven year olds – had a micron range from 17.7 to 18.7 micron. This year, 400 bales of wool were produced at shearing, with bigger wool cuts meaning it was up from 360-370 previously.

For The Weekly Times subscribers full article click here


Riverina quality at sheep sale

Merino ewes to $252 at Jerilderie

By Stephen Burns, The Land

Stephen & Lily Huggins, “Eurolie”, Hay, with their 407 April/May ’16 drop, August-shorn, Woodpark Poll-blood and Eurolie-bred ewes which sold for $226.

Restockers were out in force during the 15th annual John Wells Memorial store sheep sale at Jerilderie.

Top price at $252 was paid to Hugh and Heather Cameron, “The Yanko”, Jerilderie, for their pen of 434 May/June 2016 drop ewes, September-shorn and The Yanko-blood when bought by producers from Bendigo, Vic.

Vendor Ross Wells, Willandra Merinos, said “It is one of the strongest sales I have seen for a long time”.

“There was consistent demand all the way through for the quality offering.”

Other excellent prices included $240 for 351 June/July 2016 drop, August shorn and Woodpark Poll-blood sold on account Donald and Ann Bull, “Irroy”, Deniliquin and $230 for 428 April/May 2016 drop August-shorn and Willandra-blood sold on account Sleigh Pastoral Co, “Kooringal”, Jerilderie.

Stephen and Carol Huggins, “Eurolie”, Hay sold 407 April/May 2016 drop, August-shorn and Woodpark Poll-blood for $226 while Ross Wells, “Willandra”, Jerilderie sold 252 May/June 2016 drop, August-shorn ewes for $220.

Buyers attended from central and southern Victorian districts, Wagga Wagga, Lockhart, Forbes, Narrandera, Lake Cargelligo, Hay, Deniliquin and Finley.

The sale was conducted by Elders, Jerilderie.


Restockers push over $200

The Weekly Times

Young Merino ewes sold to $252 at Jerilderie in southern NSW last week as restocker demand continued to push the best sheep above $200.

Nearly a dozen vendors with sheep in the 13,500 yarding received prices above $200 for 2016 ewes, with all but one pen being recently shorn.

Selling agent Trevor Basset, Elders Jerilderie, said prices had trended in a similar pattern to the recent feature sale at Hay, which is viewed as the industry benchmark for Merinos in the Riverina.

“All the ewes made their value on the day, and buyers did seem happy to pay around the $200 mark for young ewes if the quality was right,” he said.

Top price of $252 went to the Cameron family for their The Yanko-bred Merino ewes, which were May-June 2016 drop and September shorn.

The next best price being $240 for the lead draft of the Irroy ewes, which were August shorn and Woodpark blood.

Overall, 12 pens of ewes sold above $200, with most sales between $200 and $220.

Mr Basset said there was solid demand stretching from Bendigo in the south to Wagga Wagga, NSW.

He believed there was a shift back to mixed farming because of the consistency of wool and lamb returns.

“Grain is not great and people are putting some paddocks back to pasture as they can see if they had stuck with some sheep the returns would have been there,” he said.

The other factor buyers are starting to realise, Mr Basset said, is that a lot of sheep have already been sold out of NSW due to the dry conditions.

“We started selling a month earlier this year and a lot of sheep have already gone.”

There were reports this week that agents at Hay have cancelled their usual October sale due to a lack of numbers.

Once off the lead runs at Jerilderie last week, the second tier of young Merino ewes generally sold from $180 to $195, with the plainest and smallest 2016 drops down to about $160.

Older ewes also sold strongly, with the standout sale being $160 for Willandra’s five-year-old breeders.

  • Jenny Kelly

Condobolin ewes top at $214

The Land

Restockers keen on replenishing their Merino ewe reserves were also looking at the prolonged dry weather and possibly baulked slightly at paying premiums during the Condobolin Sheep Breeders’ Association’s spring sheep sale last Thursday.

Moncrieff Livestock and Property agent Greg Moncrieff, said the market was much tougher than the previous week at West Wyalong, but reflected the drier weather conditions.

“It’s a reflection of the continuing dryer conditions being experienced together with a falling mutton market which has graziers quite concerned in which way they should turn,” he said.

Another local agent, Blue Reardon of JN Straney and Son, agreed and said he saw the lack of competition due to the dry seasons.

Top pen selling at $214 a head were a line of 193 Merino ewes July/August 2016 drop of Woodpark blood and July shorn bred and offered by Ian and Jane Menzies, “Moonbah”, Condobolin, going to a Tullibigeal restocker.

Ian Menzies, “Moonbah”, Condobolin, with his 193 July/August 2016 Merino ewes July shorn and of Woodpark blood which topped at $214 going to a Tullibigeal restocker.

Best presented pen came from Harold and Phillip Crouch and family’s Karu Pastoral Company, with a pen of 190 Merino ewes of Milby blood, May 2016 drop and July shorn later selling at $210 to a Lake Cargelligo restocker.

Phillip Harding, “Brooklyn”, Condobolin, gained $190 a head for his draft of 481 Merino ewes, July/August 2016 drop, April shorn of Ballatherie blood selling to a repeat buyer from the Forbes and Baldry districts.

Rob and Bellinda Neal, “Lockerbie”, Condobolin, sold 216 Merino ewes of Darriwell blood, May/June 2016 drop, July shorn, for $172 each to the Forbes district while the Brangwin family, “Evergreen”, Condobolin, received $160 a head for their 165 Merino ewes April/May 2016 drop Haddon Rig blood and July shorn from a Griffith district buyer.

Ridgelands Pastoral Company, Condobolin, sold 200 Merino wether lambs June/July 2017 at $70 each.

  • Mark Griggs

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