Trio of breeding pioneers wrote the Poll Dorset success story

Pioneer breeders delivered big Poll Dorset success

Sheep Breeders Compendium
FOUNDING FATHER: Williams Dawkins, Newbold stud, Gawler River, SA, with a champion Poll Dorset ram at the Sydney Show in 1963.

FOUNDING FATHER: Williams Dawkins, Newbold stud, Gawler River, SA, with a champion Poll Dorset ram at the Sydney Show in 1963.

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Breeding pioneers in three states combined to develop the Poll Dorset breed, now the leading terminal meatsheep sire.

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The Poll Dorsets breed was pioneered by three remarkable breeders in three different states - William Dawkins, South Australia, Lyell Stuart, Tasmania, and Rex Wilson, NSW.

And the three stud flocks they founded are continuing to produce top Poll Dorset genetics.

Dawkins' Newbold stud at Gawler River in SA was Australia's first registered Poll Dorset stud and is now run by his grandson, Bill Close, along with wife Angela and their daughter and son-in-law, Kate and Craig McLachlan.

Mr Close said his grandfather, who died in 1974, wanted to breed the horns off his Dorset Horns because of the animal welfare problems and yard injuries they caused.

Similarly-minded Dorset Horn breeders were Lyell Stuart, Valmont, near Whitemore in Tasmania, and Rex Wilson, Kismet stud at Howlong in southern NSW.

He said current breed leader, Graham Gilmore, Tattykeel stud, Oberon, NSW, reminded him a lot of his grandfather who he said was a great salesman and promoter of Poll Dorsets and somebody who could build confidence in others.

COWRA TREASURE: Cowra studmaster, John Treasure, Elouera stud, was a major force in the show ring.

COWRA TREASURE: Cowra studmaster, John Treasure, Elouera stud, was a major force in the show ring.

Dawkins' journey into breed pioneer started with the accidental mating of a Corriedale ram with a Dorset Horn ewe which resulted in a ewe lamb without horns.

This ewe produced a poll ram when joined with a Dorset Horn ewe which set him on a path to create a new breed of hornless Dorsets.

A few years later Lyell Stuart and Rex Wilson started their own breeding experiments but substituted Ryelands for Corriedales.

The trio plus Dawkins' son-in-law and studmaster Jack Reddin, formed the Australian Poll Dorset Association on September 28, 1954, during the Melbourne Show.

POLL FIRST: Rex Wilson, Kismet stud, Howlong, with one of the first ewe lambs considered close to 100 per cent Poll Dorset around 1954.

POLL FIRST: Rex Wilson, Kismet stud, Howlong, with one of the first ewe lambs considered close to 100 per cent Poll Dorset around 1954.

Dorset Horns were in their heyday in the 1950s and 1960s with the top studs bristling with high-quality ewes which they were reluctant to join with Poll Dorsets.

One who wasn't was Gus Taylor, Lindsbury stud, Cudal, in Central West NSW. Others followed his lead which significantly boosted the development of the new Poll Dorset breed.

Mr Taylor, who died in 1989, founded his Dorset Horn stud in 1939 and Poll Dorsets in 1957.

No Poll Doset stud could match Lindsbury's show record at the highly competitive Sydney Show ring between 1963-70.

Lindsbury was dispersed in 1974 with rams setting a then new world record of $11,000.

Graham Gilmore remembers Gus Taylor as a much-valued mentor rather than a competitor in the ring.

His parents, John and Mavis Gilmore, established the Tattykeel Dorset Horn stud in 1959 followed by a Poll Dorset stud in 1964.

Graham and his late brother Martin took the stud to new heights and now Graham's sons, Ross and James, have joined the team.

BREED LEADERS: Noel Armstrong, Armdale stud, Marrar, NSW (left) with Jim Prentice, Kurralea stud, Ariah Park, in 2003.

BREED LEADERS: Noel Armstrong, Armdale stud, Marrar, NSW (left) with Jim Prentice, Kurralea stud, Ariah Park, in 2003.

He credits the fierce competition in the show ring from John Treasure, Elouera Poll Dorset stud, Cowra, NSW, and Michael Lowe, manager of the Karawina stud, Oberon, NSW, for lifting the quality of the Tattykeel flock.

John Treasure was the person he had the most respect for in the show ring despite him wanting to win everything while Mike Lowe provided hard competition which forced Tattykeel to lift its game to keep up.

Mr Gilmore said the late Norm Armstrong, Armdale stud, Marrar, NSW, had made a major contribution to the industry in modern times by lifting the price flock rams.

Meanwhile, plenty of other Poll Dorsets studs have been making headlines in recent years.

The Prentice family, Kurralea stud, Ariah Park, set a new Poll Dorset record last year when they sold a ram for $32,000.

Long-time breeders and industry stalwarts, the Douglas family, Abelene Park, Woolomin, NSW, sold a ram for $24,000 in 2016.

The Frost family, Hilden stud, Bannister, NSW, and Simon and Melissa Male, Aberdeen stud, Henty, NSW, have also been performing strongly in the sale ring.

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