Sonja's not horsing around with Merinos

Kate PollardCountryman

Paddock-run is how Olympic medallist Sonja Johnson describes her Parkiarrup Merino rams.

The equestrian rider won a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics as part of the three-day eventing team but missed out on selection this year after breaking her pelvis.

With the Olympic Games off the agenda, Sonja decided to focus on her other challenge and passion, Merinos.

For the first time, Parkiarrup stud participated in day one of WA Merino Week by exhibiting at Hyfield on Monday.

"Last year we sold a few sheep and this year we are getting a bit more serious about it," Sonja said.

Parkiarrup stud was registered four years ago and is based on genetics from Anthony Archer's Norwood Merino stud in Tasmania.

Bill Johnston is on board as stud adviser.

This year Parkiarrup will have 150 green tag rams for private selection from a drop of 400 ram lambs.

"They are commercial-run, plain-bodied and we haven't mulesed a sheep since 2009," Sonja said.

"Anything in our Merino flock that shows a hint of wrinkle goes off and breeds a prime lamb."

Farming in the high rainfall area of Manypeaks, Sonja, who farms with her family, is aiming for soft white wools with fluid wax nourishment throughout.

"We want white wools that are wrinkle free and highly aligned because there is plenty of research mainly by CSIRO, going back over many years, proving the advantages of deep bold crimped wool in terms of improving haute, so we are very keen on getting that," she said.

"And they have to be a sheep that can cope with running in the paddock and having lambs and growing lambs, while I run around the world riding horses."

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