Article courtesy of the Land, Elka Denvey

For the third year in a row Darren and Gale Clarke, Barmedman, have taken home the top spot at the West Wyalong Flock Ewe Competition.

Despite a challenging season for producers, five high quality entrants from across the region were judged by Ian Cameron of The Yanko, Jerilderie and Alex Karsten of Kiawarra Merino stud, Weethalle, along with associate judges Lachlan Kitto, Tallimba and George Ridley, Girral.

Classed by Michael Elms, the Clarke’s winning July/August 2022 drop One Oak blood ewes were the youngest in the competition.

On average, the flock ewes had a 19.4-micron fleece with a 41 newtons per kilotex staple strength and cut 5.59 kilograms of wool per head per year.

The flock also achieved a 95 per cent lambing and 70pc yield with a 32pc culling rate.

Judge Ian Cameron said the yield was visible with a bright and white wool.

“They are structurally very sound and squared in the backside when you stand behind them,” he said.

“The culling rate shows, and it is good to keep that pressure on to keep a tight flock.

“With great skin quality, they’re an uncomplicated sheep that still have plenty of cut.”

Judge Alex Karsten said the wool was well presented.

“The staple length is excellent with a nice bright wool, and good crimp,” he said.

Coming in as the runner-up was Jason and Leonie Ridley, Grenoble, Girral, with their flock of Haddon Rig blood ewes classed by Andy McLeod.

On average, the 1100 breeding ewes had a 19.6-micron fleece and cut 5.5kg of wool per head per year.

Despite extremely difficult and isolating wet conditions which saw a 78pc lambing, the flock achieved a 78pc yield with a culling of 34pc.

“I’m aiming to produce ewes with a free growing long staple length that eases shearing and handling,” Mr Ridley said.

“With all of the water we’ve had on-property, the pasture quality has been hopeless so they’ve had a bit of grain, but considering what conditions they’ve been through I’m really happy with them.”

Judge Alex Karsten said the ewes were well balanced with a good staple length.

Judge Ian Cameron add that there were a few minor structural issues.

“They’re just little ones around classing, the odd foot and hock but they’re small things that can easily be remedied with the ram source,” he said.

Overall third place was awarded to Gerard, Caroline, Glen and Maureen O’Brien, Caloola, Bellarwi, with their Pooginook blood flock classed by Bruce Baker, who died earlier this year.

On average, the O’Brien’s February shorn 2000 flock breeding ewes had a 18-micron fleece and cut 7.5kg of wool per head, per annum.

The flock had a 115pc lambing and 72pc yield with a culling of 22pc.

John and Leanne Staniforth, Golden Vale, Tallimba, received the Encouragement Award.

Kitto Pastoral Co, East Yalgogrin, Tallimba, also participated in the competition.

Article Courtesy of the Land, Helen Decosta

Justin and Natalie McCarten of Rankin Springs claimed top spot at the 29th Lake Cargelligo Maiden Merino Ewe Competition with their flock of One Oak Poll blood ewes.
A crowd of 50 people were in attendance to follow the competition on February 2, with perfect weather and a beautiful breeze to keep the flies and dust away.
The competitions judges were James Osborne, sheep and wool specialist with AWN, Deniliquin, Garry Kopp, Towonga Merino stud, Peak Hill, and associate judge Tamara Pabst, AWN wool technical officer, Tottenham, Vic.

Not only did Justin and Natalie McCarten’s flock win in the judges opinion but they also won the peoples choice award, beating their previous years success being awarded second place.
The One Oak Poll-blood flock classed by Michael Elmes measured a fibre diameter of 20 micron, also cut an average of 6.1 kilograms per head over a nine month shearing interval with 68 per cent yield, while having a lambing rate of 110 per cent.
The judges said ewes were big, long framey ewes with excellent skins, that were a very even line, with a flexible but very well managed approach.

top price ram at 2022 ram sale


The on-property sale at Jerilderie NSW has realised the highest ever average for the One Oak stud. Read the full sale report here.

A ram with genuine sire appeal topped Friday’s One Oak Poll sale at $28,000, helping carry the Jerilderie-based Merino stud to a stud record auction average of $4061 a head.

Nicknamed “Alistair” after breeder Alistair Wells, the ram was second under the hammer in the 110-lot catalogue and sold to local commercial breeder Donald Bull of Irroy at Deniliquin.

The price matched last year’s top price for the stud.

Mr Bull said while it was the most money he had spent on a ram, he needed 20 replacement flock rams a year and the value was there in the longer-term.

Alistair Wells, left, One Oak Poll Merino stud at Jerilderie, with the $28,000 ram sold to local commercial sheep breeder Donald Bull, Irroy of Deniliquin.

Similar to many at the on-property sale, he was taken with the ram’s wool and the way it was carried on a very correct structure.

The ram was 20.2 micron and boasted a comfort factor figure of 99.5 and weighed 102kg liveweight.

“He suits our conditions perfectly and he just has a beautiful square barrel with lush wool,’’ Mr Bull said.

“We’ve been breeding our own rams for 20 years and while we’ve spent over what we have in the past, I thought why not have a crack. And 20 flock rams at an average of $3000 or $4000 costs a lot more than ($28,000).”

Noted sheep classer Michael Elmes said the ram was one out of the box.

“It’s bold and lustrous wool that you don’t see a lot of,’’ he said.

“He has got ram’s wool and for a stud sire to breed on you need that something extra and he has it.’’

Natasha Wells said they had retained a semen share of the ram and he would be used in their stud.

“Alistair didn’t want to sell him, we had a lot of conversations about it,’’ she said.

The sale opened strongly, with the first 20 rams consistently selling from $5000 to $10,0000.

The Pemcaw Merino stud at Dunedoo paid the second top price of $10,000 for a sire, while Western District producer David Lyons of Melville Park Hereford stud outlaid $8000.

Rams sold to buyers from a wide area, from southern Victoria to Queensland with several Merino studs battling it out against repeat commercial clients.

The result at the close of the auction was 96 of 110 rams sold for an average of $4061.

Post-sale a handful of passed-in rams were sold to take the figure to 100 rams sold at $3905.

The figure still exceeds last year’s result for One Oak, which was an average of $3885.

R19137 (by Red-31)with Nick Gray, Elders Jerilderie;Rodger Mattews, Borambil Merini Stud, Lachlan, Amelia, and Alistair Wells with Rick Power from Nutrien

One Oak Poll Merino sold to a record auction price Friday on-farm at Jerilderie, with their top ram selling to $28,000 and the second top price ram selling for $18,000.

The full draft also came back at a new record average with 110 rams for $3885.

Lot 4, a PP Poll ram, R19137, attracted a frenzy of bidding quickly going beyond $20,000 and eventually selling to Rodger and Kim Mathews from Borambil Merino Stud, Corowa.

This most wanted stud sire was described as an all ’rounder with a balance of quality and volume in wool and meat. His wool measured 19.1 micron with a standard deviation of 3.3 and a coefficient of variation of Fibre Diameter of 17.3. The ram was DNA tested and is by Red-31, out of a special stud medium wool ewe. Stud principal Alistair Wells said that R19137 had a balance of meat and wool that will breed on and exhibited a level of comfort factor that reflected the stud’s ambitions. This ram is plain bodied with increased body weight and long staple wool, Mr Wells said.

Lot 8, R19198 by R-45 a full ET brother to R1937, sold for $18,000 or $3000 above last year’s top bid, going to Michael Green from Boudjah Merino Stud, Cooma.

This younger ram was described as presenting with deeply crimped elite wool through to his points and underline. Carcase-wise he was square, solid and had the potential to easily fatten. His micron was 18.9 with a standard deviation of 2.9 and a CV of 15.3,

There were two lots that sold to $9000 including lot 11, R19136 with “free-combing, gutsy wool on a well put together and good doing body”. Micron was 18.9 with a standard deviation of 3.5.

The other ram sold at that price was lot 20, B20118 produced by artificial insemination with 18.6 micron wool and 3.5 Standard deviation.

Volume buyers were Andrew and Catherine Browning, Ivyholme, Jerilderie, who bought 8 rams for an average of $4881, TM and J Caldwell, Young, purchased 10 rams for an average of $3800. Barry Carruthers and sons, Tullibigeal, purchased 8 rams for an average of $3197, Mark and Helen Hoskinson, Fernleigh,  bought 9 rams for an average of $3887.

Mr Wells said embryo transfer had served One Oak Poll very well, and was worth the expense. “Artifical insemination is cheaper upfront but less effective. With ET the genetics of both sides are dominant.”

Mr Wells said he and his wife Natasha and their children Amelia and Lachlan were thrilled with the result of the sale.

The sale was settled by Elders Jerilderie.


Increased wool cuts lifts profitability at Ivyholme
Ruth Schwager

Ruth Schwager@RubyWrites23

LIFTING WOOL CUT: Andrew Browning has been using One Oak Poll genetics for many years and has been working on wool cut for many years, with the adult ewes cutting 8.2kg.

ANDREW and Catherine Browning are making the most of the country they have by lifting wool cuts and improving lambing percentages.

The mixed farmers run 1850 Merino ewes alongside a cropping program at Ivyholme, between Jerilderie and Coleambally.

The Brownings have had Merinos for more than 40 years, with Mr Browning being the second generation on the property, and the typical Riverina Merino suits their operation.

“We’ve always chased a solid, structurally sound Riverina-style Merino that cuts a lot of wool,” Mr Browning said.

“With the surge in sheep prices we’ve been trying to focus on the maternal side, as well as more opportunities with the meat market.”

The Brownings have used genetics from the Wells family’s One Oak Poll stud which was established by Catherine’s father Graham and her grandfather Alby, since 2014.

“My family was with the original One Oak stud, one of Graham’s main bloodlines, from the mid-1980s,” Mr Browning said.

“When Graham dispersed the One Oak stud in 2014, we moved to the One Oak Poll stud run by Catherine’s brother Alistair and his wife Natasha.

“They’ve always had good wools, and I’ve always been focused on trying to produce the best wool sheep that I can.”

Wool cut has been a big focus over the past few years.

“In a good season the ewes are cutting around 8kg of wool, at 20.5- to 21-micron,” Mr Browning said.

“I’ve been working on lifting wool cut since I’ve been running sheep, because it’s not a huge property (1680 hectares), so they need to be efficient. We do run at a higher stocking rate than some of the larger properties in the area, but we’re making the most of the country we have, supplemented by areas of improved pasture and irrigation.”

QUALITY WOOL: The Browning family's Merino ewes are cutting around 8kg of wool, at 20.5- to 21-micron for a 12-month shearing.

QUALITY WOOL: The Browning family’s Merino ewes are cutting around 8kg of wool, at 20.5- to 21-micron for a 12-month shearing.

He has considered moving to a shorter period between shearing, but it’d have to fit in with the cropping program, he said.

“At the moment it’s a 12-month shearing. I think six months shearing could be risky here in the tight seasons, in terms of making the required staple length, and I’ve looked at an eight-month shearing but it’s hard to fit in with the cropping program.”

Mr Browning is looking to lift lambing percentages, with the goal to have more surplus ewes for sale each year, along with the wether lambs.

“We’re marking between 90 and 100 per cent, but we want to improve that.

“That’s something I’m working on with the poll rams, looking for the increase in fertility, combined with improving our management to increase lamb survival, to lift lamb numbers.

“We started scanning three years ago for singles, multiples and empties to try to modify management to maximise the feed opportunity for the multiples.”

The Brownings have also trialled supplementary feeding of the ewes prior to lambing.

“We’ve recently been playing around with feeding lupins to ewes in the month leading up to lambing, but our general approach is to try to have the ewes in at least good store condition prior to lambing, and on a rising plane of nutrition,” Mr Browning said.

“We run the sheep on a mix of native country with some run on irrigated crops and pastures, and we drench the ewes on to the stubbles over the summer which gives the native country a break and it’s good for a worm break as well.”

We do run at a higher stocking rate than some of the larger properties in the area, but we’re making the most of the country we have, supplemented by areas of improved pasture and irrigation. – Andrew Browning

He grows winter crops, including wheat, barley and faba beans, as well as canola for seed production, which is grown under a mix of flood and overhead irrigation.

“We do have a small portion of the wheat area that’s sown to grazing varieties and usually the weaner ewes will go on there to grow out.”

Wethers are sold through the November store sale at Jerilderie, at five to six months.

“They’re weaned onto irrigated pasture at the end of August and we try to get them as heavy as we can, usually 45kg to 50kg,” Mr Browning said.

“The improvement in bodyweight provided by the polls is highly noticeable.”

Classed out young ewes are sold at the John Wells Mermorial store sheep sale in Jerilderie in October.

“Our numbers have stayed static for a while, but we never have enough classed out ewes to sell, which is why we’d like to lift production without increasing numbers. I’ve historically run the place on my own with help at peak times throughout the year, so I try to have a streamlined operation, running sheep  as efficiently as possible, because the cropping takes up a fair bit of time.

Mark Griggs 

NARRANDERA sheep classer Michael Elmes has retained his reputation and even added another accolade at the 2021 Lake Cargelligo Maiden Merino Ewe competition last Friday.

The three placegetting flocks were each classed by him, and, the flock which was awarded the most profitable.

Eleven-months wool certainly impressed when the tour arrived at Barry and Vickie Carruthers and son, Jared, Milbank, Tullibigeal, but it was also the conformation, quality and wool cut of the 20.5 micron average One Oak Poll blood flock of some 40 years that really impressed as standouts to win the competition.

The Carruthers won this competition in 2019.

Ram sold for $30,000 in 2020

One Oak Poll ram, 18010 sold privately for $30,000 on the day the studs 2020 on-property auction. The sire was purchased by Justin Boughen from Kamora-Netley Park, SA. Justin said he admired the big soft muzzle and the style of the long stapled fleece. “We came to buy a ram with white and pure wool”, he said. “Our ram has terrific lock structure and a very dense fleece.”

The fleece measurements of 18.9 mic, 3.1 SD and 99.5 pc CF with a body weight of 119kgs confirmed Mr Boughen’s decision to buy the ram.

Pictured from the left: Michael Elmes, Smart Stock, Narrandera, Justin Boughen, Kamora-Netley Park Poll Merino Stud with Amelia and Alistair Well

One Oak Poll client, Justin McCarten, winner of 2020 Lake Cargelligo Ewe Competition

Mark Griggs

NO newcomers to Merino maiden ewe competitions, Justin and Natalie McCarten have made the 2020 Lake Cargelligo fixture their third win in 20 years.

With their four daughters, the McCartens run a self-replacing Merino flock of One Oak blood growing 20 micron wool at Glen-Echo, Rankins Springs, classed by Michael Elmes, Narrandera.

Mr McCarten, said a judge, several years ago, Matthew Coddington, Roseville Park stud, Dubbo, had commented that his ewes had the full genetic potential to grow out into good matrons and gain the benefit years on of breeding better sheep.

“I’ve followed his comments and put the effort into turning my ewes into well nourished and well-grown sheep,” Mr McCarten said.

“I do have better breeding ewes and they have big frames and cut well.”

The maidens now at 20 months had been joined for six weeks and would be scanned in another four weeks with Mr McCarten still deciding whether to join the empties back to Merinos or to White Suffolk rams.

“Having all one flock of Merinos makes for easier management and Merino lambs may not turn-off as quick as crossbreds, but I benefit from the extra wool as well at 7.08 kilograms,” he said. The Glen-Echo flock won the top award in 2010 and in 2018, and has been runner-up four times and placed third twice.

Returning judge Allan (Smoke) Dawson, Winyar stud, Canowindra, said he liked the ewes’ growth pattern.

“They’re good rangy types with plenty of neck extension, fair bit of leg under them, good spine and penty underneath,” he said.

“Their muzzle type suggests they are a good constitution type of sheep.”

Introductory judge, Henry Armstrong, Pemcaw stud, Dunedoo, agreed saying the ewes are impressive and all pretty even in type.

“All have good heads and not many are overdone.”

Impressed with the ewes’ feet, he said they were excellent. “With feet I look for both claws the same shape. If you get the feet right you don’t have too many problems.”

Rachel Canfield of Yuruga Plains Yarns at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show

Rachel Canfield loves knitting and crocheting and wanted to spin the wool grown on her parent’s property, Yuruga Plains, into yarn for her own use. But once spun, the wool was too good to keep just for herself and so Rachel decided she was going to share this product with others. After seeking out the few remaining local businesses that would process the families raw wool into yarn, Rachel was able to create an entirely local product that is made from start to finish, in Victoria. Yuruga Plains yarns can be purchased online at The story of Yuruga Plains fine merino wool has been generations in the making. The Canfield’s, have been producing fine merino wool in the Loddon Valley region in Victoria for more than 80 years. Rachel’s parents, Geoff and Carol Canfield are long term One Oak Poll clients.

Justin and Natalie McCarten's ewes are awarded third place in the 2019 Lake Cargelligo Ewe Compettion.

The 24th annual Lale Cargelligo Maiden Merino Ewe Compettion was held on Friday February 1st, 2019, with eight competitors from Naradhan, Rankin Springs, Weethalle, Gubbata, Kikioira, Ungarie and Tullibigeal localities. First place was awarded to the Carruthers family of “Millbank” Tullibigeal who presented a flock of 20 micron One Oak Poll Merino ewes which the judges regarded as being very bloomy and high crimping wool with large framed sheep with a good butt shape for easy lambing and fertility. The Carruthers family achieve 91pc lambing and average 8.5 kg of wool per sheep. Their yield is 58pc and the ewes had 10 months wool growth. The ewes were classed by Michael Elmes, who culls 34.3pc of young ewe lambs to give an averaged gross margin of $247 per ewe.

Third place went to Justin and Natalie McCarten of “Glen Echo” Rankin Springs who presented a flock of 20 micron One Oak Poll blood ewes. The judges thought the wool displayed cut and handling in droughty, dusty conditions. The body shape was very good with a good finish of wool all over each ewe. These ewes have lambing percentages of 112pc which enables a culling rate of 32pc. Justin and Natalie cut 5.8 kgs of wool after 10 months, taking advantage of the good wool length their ewes grow to shear at less than 12 month intervals. The ewes yielded 59pc and gave an averaged gross margin of $261 per ewe. They were classed by Michael Elmes. 

Article courtesy of The Lake Cargelligo Ewe Competition committee