The wagyu of meat sheep pro­duced in the Bur­nett

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE - — Michael Nolan

OVER the past few decades the num­bers in Queens­land’s sheep flock have steadily de­clined.

Dereg­u­la­tion, the threat and cost of feral preda­tors and a boom in the price of beef pushed many sheep cock­ies out of the mar­ket.

But a new breed, the Aus­tralian white, has gen­er­ated keen in­ter­est, lead­ing Nanango gra­zier Greg Patch to tran­si­tion into the meat sheep mar­ket.

He’s built up a small flock of stud rams and ewes and is eye­ing off run­ning an ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion pro­gram in the not-too-dis­tant fu­ture.

“Gra­ham Gil­more was the bloke that started the breed,” Mr Patch said.

“About 11 years ago Gra­ham used to breed polled dorsets. He was over in Brazil and he saw these sheep and he thought to him­self, ‘Why do you re­ally have to have wool on sheep?’ ”

Mr Gil­more blended four dif­fer­ent breeds of sheep at his fam­ily’s stud at Oberon in New South Wales.

They in­clude well­car­cased poll dorsets, mus­cu­lar woolled tex­els from Hol­land, the south fat-tailed van­rourey and white dor­pers.

After 11 years of ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion and em­bryo man­age­ment, the Aus­tralian white was born.

A cut above the rest

The re­sult is a sheep with a quiet tem­per­a­ment that is both tall and long in the car­case, with fat mar­bling con­sis­tent with what you’d find in wagyu beef.

As a clean-shed­ding sheep there’s no need to shear them, which cuts down on farm man­age­ment cost and labour.

PHOTO: MICHAEL NOLAN

PROMIS­ING: Greg Patch, from Beau­vale, breeds Aus­tralian whites and he reck­ons they are the fu­ture of the meat sheep in­dus­try.

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