Kerrilyn aims for 'gutsy' wools

Vic stud pride themselves on growing a 'gutsy' wool

Sheep
Grand and reserve grand champion strong wool ewes at the Australian sheep and Wool Show, 2018, held by Norm and Kerri Weir.

Grand and reserve grand champion strong wool ewes at the Australian sheep and Wool Show, 2018, held by Norm and Kerri Weir.

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Vic stud pride themselves on growing a 'gutsy' wool.

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Norm and Kerri Weir of Kerrilyn Merino and Poll Merino stud, located at Dunluce in central Victoria, know a thing or two about breeding quality Merino sheep.

Not only do they have a history of breeding big framed, heavy cutting productive sheep, their success in the show ring is proving their aims are being validated.

The couple, who run 550 stud ewes alongside a 2200 head commercial flock, pride themselves on breeding sheep that cut a lot of gutsy wool that is well nourished with a long staple.

"The soil around here is light granite, so I find if you don't put a bit of guts in the wool you finish up with not enough weight in the fleece - the sheep naturally fine down on the lighter country," Mr Weir said.

Mr Weir said fleece weights vary depending on the season, but lambing ewes normally cut between six and seven kilograms.

At the Australian Sheep and Wool Show, Bendigo, Kerrilyn have won four most valuable fleece awards as well as a champion strong wool fleece and reserve champion medium and fine medium fleece awards.

Also at Bendigo, in 2019, Kerrylin was judged the reserve champion ram in the dual-purpose section.

The March shorn two-tooth scored 24 points for wool visual appraisal and 22 points carcase visual.

This went with a total of 39.2 from 50 objective.

The April-2018 drop ram had an EMD of 43mm, micron of 19.6 and 99.9pc comfort factor.

Mr Weir said the young ram was "one of the best rams I have ever bred".

"His dual purpose ability is what we are trying to achieve in our poll flock.

"There were 78 rams in that category from all over the country and we ended up missing out on the champion placing by less than a point," Mr Weir said.

Also in 2019 a six-tooth strong wool ewe with a 21-micron fleece sired by a Mulloorie ram purchased by the stud won a swag full of broad ribbons including the grand champion ewe at Dubbo National Show and Sale, and grand champion strong wool ewe at Hamilton Sheepvention.

The prize winning ewe was given or loaned to Garry and Donna Kopp in return for some progeny if she breeds on well.

In wether trials Kerrilyn blood sheep are often at the top of the competition, cutting the heaviest fleece weight teams and boasting the biggest sheep off shears.

In the Ovens Valleywether trial, clients of Kerrilyn, the McClelland family, who entered a team in the trial had the heaviest cutting sheep.

Kerrilyn Merino stud was originally founded in 1994 based on Belbourie and Wonga bloodlines.

"My brother and I bred our own rams for a number of years before I registered, I then ended up purchasing 50 ewes from Oaklea which is a daughter stud of Belbourie, and another handful of ewes from Wonga," Mr Weir said.

Since then most additions to the stud have been made by artificial insemination (AI) using top sires within the industry.

In 2011 a Poll Merino stud was established with the purchase of 50 ewes and a ram at the Lewisdale dispersal sale in Western Australia.

Mr Weir said he preferred to purchase a line of poll ewes, to keep the horned and poll ewes separate.

He said the AI program at Kerrilyn had been largely successful.

"We have used semen from the Australian supreme 'Calendar' as well as Banavie, Oak Bank, White River, Woodyarrup and Glendonald studs. The Glendonald ram we used was the Australian supreme in 2001," Mr Weir said.

"I usually use SA bloodlines as an outcross, such as Mulloorie, but I've also used Koole Vale - I don't mind mixing a bit of NSW and Vic bloodlines into the sheep at times, but I'm not fussed, if I see a ram I really like, I will pursue it."

Confessing he is not a real 'figures' man, Mr Weir said he had his first dabble in the practice last year.

He performed a blood test on his sheep for an experiment on his flock profiles.

"The results that came back were extremely pleasing. The horns were in the top 10 per cent in the dual purpose index and the top 5pc for clean fleece weight," Mr Weir said.

"The polls were in the 20pc for dual purpose and top 10pc for clean fleece weight.

"It surprised me a little, but also rings true to what I am trying to achieve here at Kerrylin.

"It was good to see what I select for is what they came back as."

Rams on offer at their on-property sale on September 4, 2020 are April May 2019 drop, and will be both horned and polled rams.

The story Kerrilyn aims for 'gutsy' wools first appeared on Farm Online.

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