Woodpark Poll Merino


Best pen of three rams Loddon Valley Field Day

The ability to withstand weather extremes and still demonstrate quality helped bring home the best pen of three rams award for Woodpark Poll at Loddon Valley Field Day last Friday.

The ram award was backed up by the stud’s young ewes being awarded runner up in the Loddon Valley’s best of pen three ewe weaners memorial competition.

Judges Murray McKenzie and Phil Toland were looking for consistency and sheep with the least faults.

And they noted that despite the surplus of rainfall this year our sheep had clearly withstood any damage and fared well in unusual conditions.

Our focus of the day and always was to highlight the durability of Woodpark Poll sheep.

Like many we were affected by the floods and after 300mm of rain in five and a half weeks and certainly more unrecorded, Woodpark poll sheep have proven once again that they will persevere with white, soft 18-micron wool estimated to cut 8kgs.

With thanks to the judges choosing our Best pen of Three Rams as winner and coming in as runner up for Doug Todd Memorial Pen of Three ewe weaners.

With big meaty dual-purpose frames our sheep have a tick in every box, with fleece volume and value, white wools, soft microns.

We took a selection of bare-breeched ewes to demonstrate high fleece weight quality wools with a handprint of bareness around tails that manages to avoid any plainness.

We always love coming down to Loddon Valley Stud Merino Field Day with 19 other studs. It’s a central point to our clients as we send sheep south, east, southeast, west and north from this point.

After another successful year we hope to see you next year.


Poll Merinos sell to $15,500 and lift av to $4245 at Woodpark

The $15,500 top ram with Elders wool representative Clyde Mckenzie, Deniliquin, and Carol and Stephen Huggins, Woodpark Poll Merinos, Hay.

The Woodpark Poll Merino ram sale went off with a bang, following the trend of other high profile Poll Merino ram sales earlier in the month, averaging north of $4000 and selling to three states.

It was the high quality white wools that buyers were chasing, with every client not only talking about the wool quality, but the fact these rams could go to Gippsland’s high rainfall areas, through to 11 inch rainfall country around Longreach in Queensland.

The versatility of the rams to suit a variety of climates, while maintaining a stylish white wool that was attractive to every buyer, drove the sale.

The Huggins family increased their average $645 on last year’s record average of $3600 to set a new benchmark for the stud at $4245, across the 147 of 150 rams sold at the main auction, before putting the selected grade rams up at a mini auction to average an impressive $3032.

The top ram was a 19 micron ram with tremendous body shape and carcase, with an outstanding stylish white wool, backed with ASBV figures in the top five per cent for yearling weight at 11, and top five per cent for MP and DP indexes at 172 and 165 respectively.

Clyde McKenzie, Elders wool representative, Deniliquin, secured the top ram for $15,500 for Mathoura Station, who run 6000 ewes and look to breed 20 to 30 rams themselves a year for their needs.

“He was a well balanced ram, with a well nourished, distinctive wool.”

“They are shearing every six months now, so we need sheep with good free growing wool lengths at six months,” he said.

New buyers at the sale, JAB Shorter and Sons, Narrabri, made the trip south and secured the second top ram at $11,000 and another at top sire at $7500 to kick start the sale early on, before heading back north.

It was volume buyers, led by first time buyers at the sale Lisa Sheen ( manager), Merrowie Station, Hillston, who secured 12 rams at auction, averaging $4375 and a further four in the grade rams at $2875.

Ms Sheen joins 7500 ewes and also buys rams at Ballatherie Poll Merinos and the company she manages for is moving to a non muesled operation and looking for plainer bodied sheep.

“We want rams that are not over 20.5 micron and must have growth figures above seven for their ASBVs and a good barrel and length of body, with free growing, soft handling wool,” she said.

Peter Unger, MV Agriculture, Alectown, played from the first ram until the last ram and secured 14 rams at $3161 to join with his 2500 Merino ewes.

Mr Unger said he was chasing the heavier cutting, free growing sheep, with plenty of carcase still underneath them.

“I am pretty happy with where my micron is at, at 18 micron, but I am just chasing a bit more carcase in my sheep,” he said.

Paula Dean, “Notus Downs”, Longreach, Queensland, has bought at Woodpark Poll for six years and again made the two day trip south to secure 10 rams at auction to $7500, averaging $6100, along with a further seven grade rams at $3800, before looking to top up with grade rams later on.

Ms Dean said she loves the uniformity and temperament of the Woodpark rams, as it gives her the option to buy right throughout the sale with confidence.

“They are really uncomplicated sheep that suit our low rainfall country extremely well,” she said.

Ms Dean runs 4000 ewes at 19 micron and sells the wether portion straight off mum to private buyers.

“I have a set criteria that I am very firm on following, where I select my rams off the figures first and then I travel down to put my hands on them and make sure they fit the bill,” she said.

Wes Stott, Bungeeltap Pty Ltd, Kyneton, Victoria, purchased eight rams, averaging $5469, chasing plain bodied, uncomplicated rams, as he was moving to a non muelsed operarion.

“I wanted softness and brightness and targeted the more southern rams in the draft to breed wethers to grow out for two years and get three wool cuts off,” he said.

Long time supportive agent of 20 plus years, Jarrod DeMarco, Nutrien, Mansfield, bought 20 rams to go to the Seaspray area for two clients that have been long time supporters of the sale..

The sale was conducted by Elders and Nutrien, with Nick Gray (Elders), Harry Cousens (Elders) and Peter Godbolt ( Nutrien) as auctioneers. It was interfaced by AuctionsPlus.

– Brett Tindal – The Land


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


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.

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