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

Brisk bids at Woodpark

135 rams sold for average $2437

By Stephen Burns, The Land

Long-term clients of Woodpark Polls, Donald and Ann Bull, Deniliquin with their $8000 purchase paraded by Stephen and Lily Huggins. “He has good soft and crimpy wool on a bold a well structured body”

With continuing confidence in Poll Merinos, bidding was determined at the Woodpark Poll ram auction at Jerilderie on account Stephen and Carol Huggins when 140 rams were penned to see 135 sold at auction to average $2437.

Top price of $8,000 was paid for a sheded ram, when 30 were sold for $3408, while $5,000 was top price paid for unsheded ram when 105 sold for average price $2160.

A further seven flock rams were sold after the auction for $1500 average.

Indicative of the strong interest in Poll Merino sheep, the sale was underpinned by many returning clients with new buyers also making their presence felt.

The top priced ram at $8,000, a AI son of the highly successful stud sire WP12-342, was bought by long term clients Donald and Ann Bull, “Mungarra”, Deniliquin.

“He has good soft and crimpy wool on a bold and well structured body,” Mr Bull sad.

Mr Bull and his family have been buying Woodpark-bred rams from the time his father purchased sheep from Stephen Huggins’ grandfather, the late Eric Huggins.

“He will be joined to our stud ewes for replacement rams in our self-replacing Merino flock.”

The fleece of the ram measured 18.8 microns, with 3.1 SD and he was in the top 10 percent on Merino Select for Dual Purpose Index.

Mr Bull was assisted in his purchase by Clyde McKenzie, Elders Deniliquin manager who advises Mr Bull on his ewe classing.

“He is a very well balanced sheep with bright, waxy and crimpy wool,” Mr McKenzie said.

Also coming out of the sheded draft was the $5,000 ram purchased by Wagga Wagga-based sheep breeding consultant Craig Wilson for the Glasson family, Jimenbuen Past Co, Dalgety.

Sarah Houston (sister of Jack Glasson, Jimenbuen Pastoral Co, buyer of this ram) and Tom and Craig Wilson, Wagga Wagga with the $5000 purchase.

Sired by WP 14-204 who had been joined to hand-picked elite ewes, will also be used in the ram breeding project for the self-replacing flock on “Jimenbuen”.

“We are aiming for high performance using high index rams through AI, and this ram will be utilized as a back-up,” Mr Wilson said.

“He was a trait leader for yearling clean fleece weight and has a good balance of the other figures like yearling weight, eye muscle and is moderate for fat.

“We can use him with confidence because he is also structurally sound and backed by the genetic depth at Woodpark.”

Mr Wilson also bought two further rams at $3,000 and $2,500 for the Jimenbuen Pastoral Co.

Coming south for their first foray into the Woodpark Poll offering, Dougal McLeish and his wife Susan Ainge, Thurn Merinos, Coonamble, purchased the top priced ram at $5,000 in the unsheded offering, along with one sheded ram for $4,250.

Dougal McLeish, Stephen Huggins, Susan Ainge and Lily Huggins with their $5000 purchase made by Dougal and Susan for their Coonamble-district property.

The McLeish family have been breeding Merino sheep for over 80 years at “Thurn”, and have changed to Poll Merinos three years ago for ease of management but still retaining the essential attributes of heavy cutting fleeces on a sound body.

“We like the fact Woodpark have been breeding Poll for a long time,” Susan Ainge said when speaking on behalf of her husband.

“They are true to type, with nice well-defined crimp and bright wool.

“We love the fibre … and the market is now paying for it … thank goodness!”

The ram, with micron 16.6 and 2.8 SD will be used in Thurn Merinos’ self-replacing Merino flock to bred new sires.

Also paying $5,000 were D.J. Boland and J.L. Peavey, Giffard, Victoria who selected the son of WP14-102.

Significant prices included $4,500 paid by Grassy Creek Merinos for a ram with micron measurement 17.6 and in the top ten percent for Merino Select Dual Purpose Index: and $4,250 paid by Coghill Farming, “Dewhurst”, Urana for a young sire who was also in the top ten percent Merino Select for Dual Purpose Index.

Volume buyers included Budgewah Pastoral Co, Hay who bought 16 rams to top $3,500, J.C. and L.M. Clark, “Merriola”, who paid to $3,000, twice in their selection of nine rams and MV Ag, Alectown who paid to $4,500 in their draft of eight rams.

Stephen Huggins thought the prices paid reflected the genetic and structural depth of the sheep, but also the present values paid for sheep and wool. “It was a great sale and it is wonderful to see everyone rewarded for years of hard work,” he said.

The sale was conducted by Elders, Jerilderie and Landmark, Finley, with Ron Rutledge, Peter Godbolt and Nick Gray taking the bids.


Best Pen of Three Rams at Loddon Valley . . . again

Stock and Land reported: “Huggins family wins best pen of rams” – March 9, 2017.

“Woodpark Poll stud, Eurolie, Hay, has won the best pen of three rams competition at Loddon Valley field day every second year since 2011 – and 2017 was no exception.

“All three rams’ pedigrees go back to Woodpark Poll 10 0015, which Carol Huggins said had a huge impact on the stud. Two (of the winning Pen of three) rams were sired by Woodpark Poll 12 0241 and one was sired by Woodpark Poll 12 0342.

“The three Poll Merino hoggets impressed the judges for their quality wool (lustrous, soft handling, with great lock density) and huge carcase attributes”.

“Mrs Huggins said they strove to breed sheep that combined those traits so could take advantage of both the wool market, now at record highs, and the growing global demand for protein.”

“Paul Hendy, Belbourie and John Barty, Beverley, were the judges and put Terrick West’s entry in second and Kedleston Park’s in third.”

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