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2 corrections, most recently by doug.butler - Show corrections

Farm and Station

Conducted by Maurice Collins  

The Merino in S.A. — 3. Murray Family's Studs Had Amazing Run of Show Successes

Since 1860 many merino studs have come into existence in South Australia, but few have gained any great promi nence. In recent years, however, some studmasters have spent thousands of pounds in the purchase of high-class stud rams and ewes from New South Wales to improve their flocks.

When we take a backword survey of the sheep industry of this State we realise the tremendous debt due to the founders of the industry, who brought about the development of the wonder- ful South Australian merino as we know it today. Names that come to mind in this con nection are C. B. Fisher. J H. Angas, George Melrose, the Hon. G. C. Haw ker, A. B. Murray. John Murray. Ed ward Stirling, F. H. Dutton. E. Bow- man. A. McFarlane, Duffield and Por- ter (now Koonoona Pty. Ltd.), and F. Thomas. The various studs for which these men were responsible were founded be fore 1864. The descendants of some — notably the Murrays, Koonoona, and the Hawkers — are still carrying on the studs that were founded so many years ago. The most oustanding stud for many years was that of the Murrays. Remarkable Record During the first 52 years of its exis tence, before 1910, the noted studs of this family annexed all but nine of the champion awards for the rams at the Adelaide Show. In 1893-4 nnd 1895 all the championships and all but two first prizes were won. One of the most valued prizes ever won by John   Murray was a trophy, valueld at 150 gns., presented by old colonists in England.   The Murray studs have been bred without any infusion, and are per- haps the only outstanding example, at least in this State, of what success can be achieved by in-breeding, or what some studmasters term line-breeding. These sheep have been bred for 95 years without an introduction of blood from outside flocks, the only out-cross being the exchange of sheep from one Murray stud to the other. The aim of the late John Murray, who was the founder of the Murray studs as we know them today, was to breed a big plain-bodied sheep which would be able to stand up to the rigors

of the varied climatic conditions of Australia, and of carrying a heavy, bulky, fairly high-yielding wool of medium to strong quality. That he succeeded in doing this there is no doubt, and his successors have, right up to the present, followed along the same lines. Topped Ram Sales For many years Murray rams were always prominent at the Port Adelaide ram sales, and on many occasions they topped the prices. There is no doubt that Murray sheep have had a great influence in the evo- lution of the present-day type of South Australian merino. Whether these great studs could have improved their flocks by following some other leading breeders with an infusion of Peppin blood some years ago, is a matter for conjecture, and now, of course, will never be known. The stud next in order, that has had great influence on the merino of this State, and also in Western Australia, is the Hawker sheep. This famous line of blood was founded at Bungaree by the late Hon. G. C. Hawker in 1841, and is now divided into four separate flocks, each owned by descendants of the founder. The aim of these studmasters has also been to breed a big-framed, very plain-bodied merino carrying a long stapled strong stylish wool. Pure Peppin Blood The owners and studmastere of two of these studs — Mr. Walter Hawker Anama, and Mr. M. S. Hawker, North Bungaree — maintained the original blood lines in the flock until 1913, when the ram Hercules (pure Peppin blood) was purchased from Wanganella in conjunction with Mr. M. S. Hawker, North Bungaree, for 1,700 guineas. At the same time Perfection, sire of Hercules, was leased for six weeks for £300. In 1924, again in conjunction, the proprietors of these two studs purchased the ram O. T. from Collins- ville for 2,500 guineas. Whether the owners of these two Hawker studs had come to the con- clusion that the type of sheep they were breeding before 1913 was becoming too strong for a merino, and needed toning down, is to the observer a matter for conjecture, and is known only to them- selves. It also is a matter known only to themselves whether the improvement in their flocks, which they evidently had in mind when introducing the Pep- pin blood, was as marked as hoped for. The results. I think, must have come up to expectations, because sheep of this blood are so well and favorably known, more particularly in the out- back and drier areas where it is essen- tial that a sheep must have a strong constitution to enable it to survive. Sheep of this blood are eagerly sought after in Western Australia, where high prices are paid for them at the annual ram sales, and also in other States. (To be continued.)

TOP. — The late John Murray, one of the pioneers of the merino industry in South Australia who, with his brother, A. B. Murray, founded a stud of this breed ' at Mount Crawford. BELOW.— late Hon. G. C. Hawker, another of the merino industry pioneers, who founded a stud at Bungaree in 1841.

TOP. — The late John Murray, one of the pioneers of the merino industry in South Australia who, with his brother, A. B. Murray, founded a stud of this breed ' at Mount Crawford. BELOW.— late Hon. G. C. Hawker, another of the merino industry pioneers, who founded a stud at Bungaree in 1841.

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