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Strong demand launches first National SheepMaster ram sale

Sponsored content, February 19, 2024

STRONG growth in demand from commercial lamb producers and stud breeders has led to the launch of the first National SheepMaster Invitational Ram Sale in Dubbo NSW on 28 February.

Seven prominent SheepMaster ram breeders from Victoria, NSW and Western Australia will present 70 rams at the inaugural sale (see full details below).

The formation of the new national sale follows the change of ownership last year of the entire SheepMaster parent flock.

Established over 30 years by WA master sheep breeder Neil Garnett, the SheepMaster has targeted traits to achieve a type focused on fertility, bone structure/conformation, constitution, feet and productivity.

The Garnett Parent stud was sold lock, stock and barrel in October to Victorian sheep producers Charlie and Lizzie Sullivan (who were already SheepMaster breeders) and their business partner Mark Berry.

Charlie Sullivan, left, with breed founder Neil Garnett

Charlie Sullivan brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record of developing innovative solutions in Australian agriculture. He currently serves as a director and shareholder of Clear Grain Exchange.  The SheepMaster parent flock has since relocated to the Sullivans’ property Merton Downs, Merton, Victoria and Cowra, NSW..

Mr Sullivan said the decision was made to relocate the business over to the Eastern States, where the new owners saw the best growth opportunity for the breed.

The final SheepMaster sale held by breed founder Neil Garnett at White Dog Lane, WA in November saw 17 rams sold, producing a record ram sale average of $10,976, and a top price of $51,000. Six rams sold after the AuctionsPlus sale at the reserve prices.

About the SheepMaster

For those readers not familiar with the SheepMaster breed, it was developed over 30 years by Neil Garnett, who rose to prominence while at Collinsville Stud in South Australia, breaking Australian and international Merino ram sale records.

Mr Garnett spent three decades breeding the wool off sheep in the quest for a highly fertile, easy care, functional animal for which food, not fibre, is the focus – culminating in the launch of the SheepMaster breed in 2017. In order to achieve his vision for the SheepMaster type, Neil introduced the required traits from 8 breeds, over 25 years, selecting progeny for type.

The 100pc shedding with a soft silky skin is now regarded as one of the most significant additions to the Australian sheep industry in recent memory.

SheepMaster daughter stud breeders now operate in all mainland Australian states plus New Zealand.

“A SheepMaster-type ewe must be feminine. She must have long ears, a long muzzle and width between the ears,” Mr Sullivan said.

“These three indicators directly relate to length of the body, width of the shoulders, width of the rump and fertility. These are the key principles that make up a perfect breeding ewe. Basically, the same applies to rams, except they must be very masculine, he said.

There are several key points of difference between SheepMasters and other shedding breeds:

  • Fertility and lifetime productivity of the ewe. Ewes still produce multiple lambings post being cast-for-age. They have their first lamb at 13 months, then every 8 months following. Ideally the ewe should wean her body weight every 12 months.
  • 100 percent shedding, silky skin. We believe skin quality correlates to the overall productivity of the animal. Also shortens the time taken to achieve shedding (or clean skins) when transitioning from other production systems such as the traditional first cross ewe system.
  • The temperament is also key, they are intelligent, quiet animals to handle.
  • They are maternal shedders as distinct from most of the other shedders, which are more of a terminal type. A good, well-made, highly fertile ewe with outstanding maternal traits can offer a self-replacing and terminal option due to the very high weaning rates.

Future directions

So what will the future direction be for SheepMasters and how will the breed benefit the Australian sheep industry in years to come?

“I believe that in 10 to 15 years’ time, very few slaughter lambs in Australia will come out of woolly ewes,” Charlie Sullivan said.

“This is an economic and social response to the current situation we live in.  Time and costs are the driving forces behind decision making about the breed’s future direction – these sheep are developed to strip costs out of the operation wherever possible.”

“I see these sheep running pretty well anywhere as they are hardy and extremely adaptable – from NZ high country through to western NSW and QLD pastoral operations,” he said.

“We are determined to continue to innovate, leading by example in the shedding sheep sector. As a breed, we aren’t afraid to take risks and challenge the status quo.”


National SheepMaster Invitational Sale

The inaugural National SheepMaster Invitational Sale takes place at Dubbo Showgrounds (interfaced via AuctionsPlus) on Wednesday 28 February from 3pm (NSW/VIC time), 2.30pm (SA), Noon (WA), 2pm (QLD).

The catalogue includes 70 rams from seven vendors:

  • Charlie Sullivan’s SheepMaster Parent Stud based at Merton Downs, VIC will offer 42 rams (contact: Charlie Sullivan 0411 956 233)
  • Ferny Hill Sheepmaster Stud Gundagai NSW will offer 8 rams (contact: Aaron Nicholls – 0417 660 568)
  • Rainbows Rest SheepMaster Stud, Dongara WA will offer 6 rams (contact: Geoff Crabb 0427 150 072)
  • Westleigh White Suffolk & SheepMaster Studs, Lake Wongan VIC will offer 3 rams (contact: Ian Porter 0429 885 750)
  • Wild Oat SheepMaster Stud, Beckon NSW will offer 5 rams (contact: Mike O’Hare 0429 782 189)
  • Coddington SheepMaster Stud, Geurie NSW will offer 4 rams (contact: Graham Coddington 0428 638 129)
  • Winton Park SheepMaster Stud, Parkes NSW will offer 2 rams (contact: Richard Sharp 0429 485 198.

More sale details will be posted on Auctions plus early this week – click here to access.

For more information about SheepMasters, access the breed website here  

Overall sale inquiries:

Andrew Hodgson, Shedding Sheep Australia, 0472 646 426

Paul Jamieson, Elders Dubbo  0428 667 998













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