Breeders who were a border force over past 100 years

The Starritts starred on the Border Leicester stage

Sheep Breeders Compendium
ANOTHER BIG WIN: The Judge, Brayden Gilmore, Oberon, NSW, sashes another champion Retallack ram, this time at Sheepvention in 2014, with stud principals, Isabella and Graham Grinter, Ariah Park, NSW.

ANOTHER BIG WIN: The Judge, Brayden Gilmore, Oberon, NSW, sashes another champion Retallack ram, this time at Sheepvention in 2014, with stud principals, Isabella and Graham Grinter, Ariah Park, NSW.

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The Starritt and Kelso Park names stand out among the great Border Leicester breeders of Australia during the past 100 years.

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While John Cochrane established Austalia's first Border Leicester stud of note in 1881 it was George Starritt who drove development of the breed as an ideal cross with Merinos to produce first-cross ewes.

This cross became the most dominant prime lamb mother in Australia and remains popular with top breeding ewes now fetching $400 or more.

Border Leicesters originated in the border region between England and Scotland.

Starritt started his Kelso Park stud near Tatura, Victoria, in 1914 with 10 ewes and one ram from Cochrane's flock near Geelong.

He introduced rams from New Zealand in the 1920s and 1930s to produce Border Leicesters with heavier fleeces.

Kelso Park remained a powerful force in the breed for 100 years before third-generation owners, Bruce and Ann Starritt, disperse most of the the stud in 2015.

SHEEP LEGEND: Ray Starritt and his father, George, Kelso Park Border Leicester stud, Tatura, Victoria, were among Australia's greatest sheep breeders.

SHEEP LEGEND: Ray Starritt and his father, George, Kelso Park Border Leicester stud, Tatura, Victoria, were among Australia's greatest sheep breeders.

Mr Starritt and his father Ray were at the forefront of embracing measurement to improve their flock and were some of the first breeders to implement Lambplan.

In 1947 the Starritts imported a ram from Scotand, Skerrington Bossy, to improve the bone and style of their sheep.

Barry Harper, Cadell Border Leicester stud, Ariah Park, NSW, said the Starritts had been the most influential Border Leicester breeders in the past 100 years.

Barry's father, Ray, a stalwart of the show ring, established Cadell in 1946 with Kelso Park stock used in the foundation flock.

Over the years bloodlines were added from some of Australia's top stud, notably the King family's Crymelon stud at Warracknabeal and the Hosking family's The Oaks stud at Kerang.

GOODBYE TO AN ICON: Ann and Bruce Starritt dispersed the famed Kelso Park Border Leicester stud in 2015.

GOODBYE TO AN ICON: Ann and Bruce Starritt dispersed the famed Kelso Park Border Leicester stud in 2015.

The Oaks stud was formed in 1922 and Mr Harper said it was one of the backbones of the industry for many decades

The oldest stud in NSW is Whitewood at Nyngan which was founded by William McLaughlin in 1928 and is now run by Lachlan Ross.

Graham Grinter's Retallack stud at Ariah Park in southern NSW has been one of the breed's shining lights in the past three decades.

He formed his first stud as a teenager in 1963 and started showing sheep the following year including the Sydney Show.

Mr Grinter established the now famous Retallack stud in 1975 with some of his own ewes plus 30 stud ewes bought from the dispersal of the Donaldson family's Sproules Lagoon stud (based on highly-influential The Oaks and Kelso bloodlines) and the ram Campaspe BN305-74.

BORDER STALWART: Ray Harper, Cadell stud, Ariah Park, NSW, with a champion ram at Sydney Show in 1973.

BORDER STALWART: Ray Harper, Cadell stud, Ariah Park, NSW, with a champion ram at Sydney Show in 1973.

Jeff Sutton, president of the Australian Border Leicester Association and owner of the Wattle Farm stud at Temora in the Riverina, said Mr Grinter and wife, Isabella, had done a great job promoting the breed at shows where they had enjoyed great success.

He said shrinking Merino numbers and the advent of composites and Australian Whites had put pressure on the Border Leicester industry.

Stud numbers had dropped from about 600 in the 1980s to about 160 now.

However, quality was being maintained because the studmasters remaining were focused on maintaining their numbers against stiff competition, he said.

$uperBorder$, which are rams ranked by Lambplan to have superior genes for lamb production, have also emerged in recent years for breeders who rely heavily on measurement.

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