Livestock

Lockington sheep stud turns 50

By Rodney Woods

With the sheep industry "not better" in his lifetime and the sheep at a standard he and his wife are proud of, Ronobri sheep stud owner Robert Mitchell hopes he has a few years left as the stud's Poll Dorset breeding program reaches the 50-year milestone.

Mr Mitchell, from Lockington, runs the stud with his wife Lorraine and started the stud in October 1969 when 27 ewes were purchased from a stud at Willaura.

“We then purchased 16 maiden ewes from Benalla stud Glen Logan and a ram as well,” Mr Mitchell said.

“Then we bred on from there and have built up our flock to 300 ewes now.”

Over the 50 years, Mr Mitchell said it was hard to pick just one highlight, but talked about some of the tougher moments over the past half-a-century.

“There were tough years through the ‘80s and early 2000s,” he said.

“In the ‘60s, when we started, flock rams were selling for $50 to $100.

“Now, we are getting $800 to $1000 and the sheep industry, as it is now, has not been better in my lifetime.”

Mr Mitchell explained what traits they looked for in their sheep.

“They need a good looking structure in length and size, we are very particular that they have down size wool and they have no problem lambing,” he said.

“We aim to breed sheep with an evenness of type and that are structurally good.

“We are very strict with the health of the sheep — they are all OJD vaccinated and have been brucellosis accredited for most of the 50 years.”

While the Mitchells have never run an on-farm property sale, they have sold rams at the Elmore Field Days, where they have had a stall for the past 20 years; and privately, where repeat buyers come back every year.

The Mitchells also run White Suffolk and Ryeland sheep on their Lockington property.