Optimism high for ram season

Headshot of Bob Garnant
Bob GarnantCountryman

As the WA Merino industry prepares for the ram selling season, sheep producers can be assured their quality requirements are being looked after.

At last week’s breeder’s inspection day at Ashley Lock’s ram shed at Narrogin, several stud representatives were satisfied with the progress of their rams which had been prepared for both show and sale venues.

There were 90 rams on display from 16 studs.

Elders agent Russell McKay said ram replacement values were expected to be on par with last year, with similar numbers available.

Manunda Poll Merino stud representative Scott Button, of Tammin, said his family was optimistic of a good ram selling season ahead.

“Most Wheatbelt famers have had a good start to the season and we are hoping this follows through to good demand at our on-property ram sale,” he said.

The Manunda stud was founded in 1950 by Ray Button and was transferred (partnership) in 1968 to current studmaster Wayne Button, which was the beginning of the Poll stud.

The Buttons also run a separate Haseley stud bloodline, which goes back to 1959, founded by the Hamersley family.

Wayne and Pippa Button run a total of 3000 stud ewes and crop 2000ha with their sons Scott and Luke.

Scott and his wife Melissa have two young sons and so the Buttons will certainly have a stronghold on their family farm for many future generations to come.

“Both boys are good sheep men and we are very excited about the future of the stud,” Wayne said.

“It is a good time to be in agriculture and the boys are enjoying their work at the home farm.”

Wayne said the Merino industry was a very profitable option for WA farmers and with wool prices doing well against other commodities and meat prices holding very strong, the Merino, particularly the medium wool types, was the best way to go.

“We select for big and plain-bodied types that are highly productive,” he said.

Wayne said he invested heavily in the best genetics available across the country and the stud had a large embryo transfer program to build depth into the ewe flock.

The Buttons sell more than 300 rams annually and their on-property ram sale, held in early September, has been a sell-out in recent years with 250 rams offered.

Before the sale, the Manunda rams can be inspected at several venues including the Long Wool Day at Narrogin (August 5), the Rabobank Katanning Stud Merino Ram Sale and Expo (August 18 and 19), the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days (August 24 and 25) and the Perth Royal Show — Merino judging (September 24 and 25).

Other Merino events include Mingenew Lions Mid West Expo (August 18 and 19), WA Merino Week Field Days (August 15 to 17) and Newdegate Field Days (September 7 and 8) as well as several on-farm inspection days at various stud venues.

But before all that activity takes place, the National Wool and Sheep Show will be held at Bendigo in July and 45 Merino and Poll Merinos from WA will travel across the Nullarbor to contest against Eastern States sheep in one of the most highly prestigious shows in the southern hemisphere.

The WA contingent will include a national pairs entry from Chris and Jackie Hogg’s Navanvale stud for which they qualified at Wagin Woolorama, when they won the Countryman Cup.

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