VICTORIAN sheep breeders Charlie and Lizzie Sullivan have bought the parent stud of the SheepMaster breed for an undisclosed sum.
The Sullivans operate the Merton Downs SheepMaster Stud at Merton in Victoria and have plans to expand the Garnett SheepMaster parent stud flock.
Over a period of twenty-five years, founding SheepMaster breeder Neil Garnett established the breed from a base of eight meat and shedding sheep breeds, developing a silky skinned 100 percent shedding sheep with high fertility and climatic resilience.
Under Mr Garnett’s direction the stud has broken ram sale records with the highest priced ram sold in Western Australia for 31 years at $110,000 and a sale average of $10,159, the highest of any breed in the state.
Charlie Sullivan said there is an opportunity to further enhance the performance recording within the parent stud and the SheepMaster breed.
“The opportunity that we’ve taken is to really move the stud into the next level.”
He is confident that shedding sheep and the SheepMaster breed have a good future in the Australian sheep industry, with the ongoing pressure of labour and input costs.
“There is still a lot of confidence in the lamb and sheep meat sector, even though we are having tough times at the moment.”
The SheepMaster was developed in the 1000mm annual rainfall zone of Margaret River in Western Australia, but its genetic base included arid zone breeds like the Damara, Dorper and Van Rooy, as well as the other contributing breeds White Suffolk, Finn, East Friesian, Kojak and UltraWhite.
“It’s not limited; where its future it can be,” Mr Sullivan said.
Mr Sullivan is regarded as bringing experience and a proven track record of developing innovative agricultural solutions to the shedding sheep sector. He currently serves as a director and shareholder of the Clear Grain Exchange.
Neil Garnett, on behalf of the SheepMaster shareholders, Alison Bannan, and Brian and Susi Prater, said they could not be more thrilled about the acquisition of the stud by the Sullivans.
Mr Sullivan said the stud’s purchase is a golden opportunity to acquire the entire genetic legacy of an innovative and productive sheep breed.
“We have ambitious plans to expand this stud,” he said.
“From the moment I learned about the remarkable work accomplished by Neil Garnett and the SheepMaster team, I recognised the tremendous potential for growth, both domestically and internationally.
“I, and the entire Australian sheep industry, owe a great deal to Neil’s visionary leadership,” Mr Sullivan said.
Mr Sullivan said Australia enjoys a clear competitive advantage in sheep production, with the demand for Australian lamb and sheep meat continually on the rise.
“Shedding sheep are emerging as key players in the industry, providing sheep producers with options to manage rising costs, address animal welfare concerns, and mitigate variable climatic conditions.
“The SheepMaster breed, being 100pc shedding sheep, eliminates the need for shearing, crutching, tailing, and associated infrastructure.”
For more than 50 years Neil Garnett has been one of the most influential sheep breeders in Australia, moving from a farming family background in Western Australia to become the principal of the Collinsville Merino Stud in South Australia, where he broke Australian and international ram sale records.
Shedding Sheep Australia principal Andrew Hodgson said the demand for shedding sheep has grown rapidly in recent years, as producers seek sustainable profitability options for their businesses.
“It has been an honour to work alongside Neil, and I am thrilled that Charlie is taking the reins of the stud.
“Its future is exceptionally promising, and I eagerly anticipate collaborating with Charlie as I continue my role as the parent stud classer.”
Elders Rural Service and the Elders stud stock team concluded the stud sale after an extensive national sales campaign.