Desmond had a 'stella' impact on Merino flock

The Willandra ram who made a big mark on the Merino flock

Sheep Breeders Compendium
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Ross Wells knew he had a good ram in Willandra Desmond but even he was surprised by his success as a sire.

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TWO TOP DESMONDS: Ross Wells with his impact Poll Merino sire, Willandra Desmond, with Desmond McRae, the Jerilderie vet who treated the ram for a potentially serious illness when he was a lamb.

TWO TOP DESMONDS: Ross Wells with his impact Poll Merino sire, Willandra Desmond, with Desmond McRae, the Jerilderie vet who treated the ram for a potentially serious illness when he was a lamb.

Ross Wells knew Willandra Desmond was a good ram but never dreamt he would have such an impact on the Australian Merino stud industry.

He sold Desmond for $35,000 back in 2013 to New Zealand stud breeders, Steve and Mary Satterthwaite, Muller Station, Marlborough.

Named after Jerilderie vet, Desmond McRae, who treated him for a potentially life-threatening condition when he was young, Desmond's influence has spread into many of the nation's top stud flocks.

Mr Wells from Willandra stud, Jerilderie in the NSW Riverina, said Desmond was a good all-round poll ram but nothing was exceptional about him except his 19.5-mictron wool.

"He turned out a lot better than we thought," he said.

Mr Wells retained Australian semen rights but is now down to about 40 doses for his own use.

While Desmond's asking price would have skyrocketed if Mr Wells had kept hold of him he estimated he has earned about $200,000 from semen sales over the years.

SUPER SIRE: Willandra Desmond with his breeder, Ross Wells, Willandra stud, Jerilderie, after a show success in 2013.

SUPER SIRE: Willandra Desmond with his breeder, Ross Wells, Willandra stud, Jerilderie, after a show success in 2013.

He also retained half semen rights to Desmond's sire, The GP, who he sold to Geoff Peters (the ram's name came from Peters' initials), Ballatherie stud, Hillston, NSW, for $22,000 in 2011.

Mr Wells said The GP, who is now dead, had also been a major impact sire and he had sold his semen all around Australia.

Desmond's dam was the all-conquering Willandra Stella, Supreme Exhibit at the Hay Sheep Show and Grand Champion Ewe at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show, Bendigo, in 2006.

She was sired by Ashrose Blue Print who was bred by Brian Ashby and was sired by Charinga Junior from the Charinga stud in Victoria.

Stella lived until she was 13 but didn't have any lambs in her final couple of years.

Desmond was spotted by a group of NZ breeders at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show at Bendigo.

Stephen and Mary Satterthwaite weren't at Bendigo however they asked Merino sheep specialist, Stuart Hodgson, Wagga Wagga, to inspect Desmond on their behalf.

"Desmond is easily the best Poll ram we have ever seen and possibly the best Merino," Mr Satterthwaite said at the time.

"His true dual-purpose attributes are outstanding with his constitution and wool is unfaultable - he is an impact ram," he said.

Desmond is now in his final breeding season as his bloodlines have almost reached saturation point in the Muller Station flock.

"He has been used in other NZ studs and has bred some top sheep in them as well. It is amazing how good his wool has stayed as he has gone into old age especially for a Poll ram," Stephen Satterthwaite said.

Desmond had plenty of success in the show winning the Australian champion hogget ram at Hay and champion all-purpose hogget at Bendigo ahead of 120 entrants from across the country.

His progeny continue to attract attention and fetch top money at auction.

He has been used by many top studs including Nerstane, Roseville Park and Merryville.

Last year Mr Wells sold a ram by Wallalloo Park 422 out of a Desmond daughter for $51,000 to a WA stud and a group of semen partners during Sheepvention at Hamilton, Vic.

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