Merino SA celebrates a century of champion breeders in the state

With a world-renowned product, South Australian Merino celebrates 100 years of association in 2022.

The South Australian Stud Merino Sheep Association was formed on 14 September 1922 with Alick J Murray as the first elected president.

The association was founded in 1979 and now operates under the shorter name of Merino SA.

Merino SA represents approximately 130 merino and survey merino poles in the state.

The Royal Adelaide Show recognized the century with a wool-inspired fashion parade, the Adelaide Ram Sale and the launch of a book to be published early next year.

For many breeders, their families have been involved with Merino SA for many years and can see this continuing for years to come.

Association and industry go hand in hand

Tim Sullivan, Al Murray, Rob Ashby, Brian Ashby and John Daniell are among Merino SA members celebrating the association’s 100th anniversary.(Supply: Merino SA)

John Daniell of White River Merinos Sheep Stud at Poochera on the Eyre Peninsula has been involved in Merino SA for several years.

His father first registered a merino stud in 1957 and Mr Daniell was president of the association, as well as many other sub-committees.

He also helped put together the Merino SA 100 year book and planned the celebrations.

Mr Daniell said the industry would not be the same without the strong support of Merino SA.

“The union has been very important in building a very prosperous industry for the state,” he said.

Mr Daniell said he sees the industry continuing to grow.

A magazine called The SA Merino since 1992
Merino SA was originally called the Stud Merino Sheep Association of South Australia.(Supply: Merino SA)

“Two or three of the main issues have been the sizing of the wool, as in microns,” he said.

“Probably the fact that poll merino was so dominant and the phase where there were few horned merino threads and then the introduction of artificial insemination, in the 1980s, it really came to the fore and it became a big thing genetically. Merino development in South Australia.”

He said these changes had helped SA growers gain recognition not only in Australia but around the world.

“You only have to go to the Adelaide Ram Sale, which is really the leading merino sale in the world over the years,” Mr Daniell said.

“People come from all over Australia and overseas to get our genetics.”

Tom Ashby of Northern Ashrose Merinos and Poll Merino Stud in South Australia’s Mid North agreed.

“South Australian breeders have played a huge role in the genetics side of the sheep breed improvement we need in SA and it’s spreading across Australia, with a lot of SA rams going interstate playing a big role there as well,” he said.

A man in a dark blue jumper and a lady in a green jumper stand in front of sheared wool.
Tom and Sarah Ashby have had a lot of success with their merinos and poll merinos at various shows over the years.(Supply: Tom Ashby)

Mr Ashby said early breeders in the state identified they needed a larger breed of animal with a large constitution to handle the harsher conditions of being in Australia’s driest state.

“I think they’ve become popular because of their body size, body weight, precociousness and growth, and that’s kind of set them apart from other sheep over the years.”

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