Merilba Merinos, Poll Dorset & White Suffolk
Poll Dorset and White Suffolk Stud - In 2015, Merilba purchased a line of Poll Dorset and White Suffolk stud ewes. We run these animals at our block “Arding" located on the New England highway between Armidale and Uralla. Our goal was to produce a quality maternal/terminal ram option with the White Suffolks and a terminal ram in the Poll Dorsets. We have selected genetics from sources such as Depta grove, Bundarra Downs and Abalene Park. We strive to produce an effective, versatile ram suited to the New England environment that is well muscled, easy lambing and fast growing. Our rams produce quality lambs that can be suitable for both store markets as well as heavier domestic and export markets. We do not grain feed our rams as we believe flock rams should be sold “in their work clothes” ready to go.
We grade our rams into different price tiers which allows clients to choose the rams they want from a run of similar rams. This method means that clients have a fair opportunity to purchase the animals they desire as well as budget accordingly as our sale price is set and not dictated by an auction. As of late we have been selling many of our rams as ram lambs under 12 months of age. This process allows producers to achieve a faster genetic gain by bringing newer genetics to their flock quicker. It also means that (on average) the rams do an extra year joining compared of two-year-old rams. We generally have some rams available so please contact the Merilba manager for enquiries.
Merinos - Merilba runs a super fine wool merino flock which have originated from Nerstane bloodlines. We then went down the SRS path with Dr Jim Watts to further develop our sheep. In recent years we have been having a lot of success with Roseville Park Genetics. Our current ewe is a dual purpose, easy care, poll merino with a split focus of 50% wool and 50% lamb. We run an A and B flock system where the A flock are classed in for superior wool characteristics and are joined to a Poll Merino ram. The B flock are animals with less favourable wool and are joined to White Suffolk rams to produce First cross ewes for our cross-breeding operation. We sell our 1st cross wether lambs at weaning as store lambs aiming for 30Kg at 15 weeks of age. We retain all our merino progeny.
We strive to run all our livestock with the highest level of animal welfare. We have been non mulsed for over 15 years and have put continuous classing pressure on the sheep to ensure they are suitable for the environment. We use a combination of good management and selective breeding to achieve a breeding ewe that consistently produces 4kg plus of quality wool whilst rearing 100%+ lambs each year with a natural resistance to fly strike and internal parasite pressure. With these characteristics our sheep are proven performers.
We are currently in the process of developing a wether flock. The animals are suited to the Southern area of Merilba where the soil type changes to coarse granite. We select animals that produce a large quantity of quality wool with robust frame that can handle the Merilba environment. The wethers produce 5kg plus of 17 micron wool each year and are shorn in November to minimise vegetable matter in the wool. The wethers play an integral part in the further development of Merilba as we run them in big mobs of 2000 plus head which allows us to intensively graze areas for short periods of time. The areas are then spelled for a long period which promotes plant growth and species diversity. With this change in management, we are seeing the natural removal of weeds and rejuvenation of native grasses.
Cross Bred Sheep - We produce our own first cross ewes from our Merino operation. We have found that the white Suffolk cross merino gives us a robust ewe with fantastic maternal traits whilst maintaining a moderate frame size. We strive for an easy care ewe that will hold their condition through the winter, produce 130% plus lambs each year and is naturally resistant to internal and external parasites. We join our ewes to quality Poll Dorset rams in order to achieve a fast-growing fat lamb.
In previous years we have successfully taken these lambs through to domestic and export kill weights but recently we have found that the December store market has been very lucrative. We now aim to produce a 35kg lamb at 15 weeks of age which we sell at the point of weaning. We have sold many lambs to return buyers with feedback that our lambs are very versatile and perform well in both the New England and down on the plains.