Challara Poll Merinos Newsletter – 2020

Welcome to the Challara Poll Merino Stud’s 2020 newsletter.

The drier weather conditions have made Merino sheep breeding more challenging in the past year. Having said that, it is a great time to be involved in the wool industry, especially with the plain, productive, easy-care sheep that we are breeding here at Challara.

Ram breeding has been an interesting and eventful journey since officially selling our first six rams at a Multi-Vendor Sale at Moora in the year 2000, twenty years ago.  We have come a long way, with several positive adjustments to help us pave the way to breed a more profitable type of Merino that will be in demand for the future.  Since the Wilkinson family began breeding from Soft Rolling Skin principles in 1993, it has been proven that Merinos that are plain-bodied can be shorn twice per year, possess good carcass traits, fertile, possess a high wool value with fly resistance leading to fewer chemicals and higher production.

Dr Jim Watts has certainly left a legacy with how he has positively impacted our Poll Merino Stud and more broadly in the wool industry.  The science he developed from the correlation between the skin and wool and the secondary and primary follicles has certainly been proven here. Maintaining the SRS principles has enabled Challara to continually lift their breeding standards while producing a suitable carcass for the abattoir.

Unfortunately, many wool growers can overlook our type of Merinos.  The three obvious reasons are;

  1. One perception is not cutting enough wool.

Answer.  A high ASBV pedigree accuracy, taking micron into account and a 20% rise in lambing percentage since the transition from a heavy cutting, tight skin sheep must be considered.  There can be a small sacrifice in wool cut, but there are more gains in fertility.  We also must maintain reasonable wool cut to justify shearing twice per year. 

  1. Open, dusty back wools.

Answer.  From a wool clip of close to 200 bales, we hardly fill one bale with open, dusty back wools.  Open back wools can also tend to be very long wools, which droop to the side.  Even though open backs can attract more dust, they also can have a high wool value on the sides of the fleece.  We understand it can be an issue with some growers, so there are still plenty of rams that don’t show open backs.

  1. Overlength wool.

Answer.  Even though overlength wools can be discounted from shearing every 12 months, the gains from the wool value are still stronger than the discounts.  Selecting for longer wools can give flexibility to shearing times as well.  Some growers shear every 8 or 9 months, a few choose to shear every six months.  There are gains to be made when the wool length is 60-90mm from wool demand.   

It is a good time to reflect back to the many highlights that have taken place in the last year.

  • Challara 150245 has now results from sire evaluations entered in Balmoral Victoria, McPiggery Station South Australia and Muresk Western Australia. Our sire performed well in the three sites, especially with the visual classing, HSL, YEMD and YFAT.  The full results can be seen on the AMSEA website.
  • Some of our clients and our own wool has featured in the top wool prices in the Farm Weekly.
  • 2019 Challara Ram Sale Summary

Rams Offered > 141
Rams Sold > 135
Average Price > $1,241
Top Price > $4,500

It was pleasing to see a good clearance and some interstate support to help bolster competition with the top end sale rams.  There were seven new registered buyers, including two from South Australia and one from Victoria.  The two Challara rams offered at the Classing Classic Ram Sale earlier in the week contributed to the Eastern States support.  We also welcomed our sheep classer (Bill Walker) to provide his support for the day.

  • Badgingarra Ewe Hogget Competition was a successful local event that was held in July, 2019. Wayne Button (from Manunda Poll Merino Stud) did a great independent job judging the 8 commercial Merino sheep entries into the competition.  There was our own stud and another local Poll Merino Stud “Mardo Well” on display.  Congratulations to long term client Andrew Kenny, who deservedly won the long wool section.  A very high-quality commercial line of ewe hoggets selected for the day.  Short wool section won by long term client, Matt Taylor.  The maternal section was won by another long term client, Dennis Martin.
  • Eneabba Ewe Sale held in late October 2019. It was quite a pleasing sale, especially for Challara and several of our clients.  Our 1.5 year old ewes managed to top the sale
    with a better draft of 212 suitable for mating with Merino rams sold for $190/hd.  They were sold to the Cocking family from Dongara.  The second draft of 1.5 year old ewes also sold to the same buyer for $178/hd.  The losing bidder was a young farmer from Casterton, Victoria who bought a few rams at the Challara Ram Sale.

Another rewarding job has been the opportunity to class ewe hoggets from the Brennand family, south of Southern Cross.  I have enjoyed seeing the improvement in the flock with suitable Challara rams to match.  They are long term clients with encouraging results in a low rainfall environment.  Lambing percentage of 98% this year!

As a replacement to the Dowerin Field Days, Challara is hosting an On-Property Inspection Day on Friday, August 28th from 10am to 4pm.  I would encourage you to come check out our ram sale team and other sheep on display if you are able to make it.

Three Challara rams will be offered at the Classic Ram Sale in Murray Bridge S.A on Monday September 7th.

A reminder that our On-Property Ram Sale will be on Thursday September 3rd.  Inspection from 10am.  The sale will start at 1pm.

If you happen to be involved with Facebook at all, a reminder that there is some good updated photos and a few videos of highlights of our stud.  You can like us or comment on the Challara Facebook page.

Challara rams will also be offered for sale through Auctions Plus this year for those people who are interested.

I trust that the year can turn around for the better for all concerned!

For further details, please contact Peter — 0427 427 691.

From Peter Wilkinson and family.



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