Fam­ily’s win­ning tra­di­tion

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - KAROLIN MACGRE­GOR

A DE­CI­SION by Andrew Hogarth to con­tinue his fam­ily’s long tra­di­tion of breed­ing South­downs sheep has proved to be a prof­itable move.

Mr Hogarth is the fifth gen­er­a­tion of the fam­ily to run a South­down breed­ing op­er­a­tion af­ter set­ting up his Kirk­dale stud about 10 years ago.

His sourced his orig­i­nal stud sheep from his fa­ther’s stud, also called Kirk­dale, and now runs the sheep on a fam­ily prop­erty near Evan­dale.

“The main rea­son I started it was more for his­tor­i­cal side of things,” Mr Hogarth said.

“We’ve had South­downs in the fam­ily since 1884 and I thought I’d just run about 20 or 30 ewes to keep it go­ing.”

Kirk­dale is the sec­ond-old­est South­down stud in the coun­try and flock No. 11 in the breed’s reg­istry.

While it was tra­di­tion that first saw him get in­volved with the breed, af­ter a resur­gence in pop­u­lar­ity of the South­downs and in­creas­ing de­mand for rams Mr Hogarth now runs about 100 South­down ewes.

Next week, to­gether with his part­ner Aneika Cross­well, Mr Hogarth will hold his sec­ond on-prop­erty ram sale.

The stud re­cently had sig­nif­i­cant suc­cess in the ring at the breed’s an­nual na­tional show at Gee­long.

The Kirk­dale rams won a swag of rib­bons, in­clud­ing the cham­pion ju­nior South­down ram, grand cham­pion South­down ram, cham­pion in­ter­breed ram and the re­serve cham­pion sheep of the show.

“I knew I had some sheep that were there and about, but I didn't ex­pect to win what we did,” Mr Hogarth said.

“It’s the big­gest show for the breed, so to be able to win what we did was a sur­prise.”

Of the six rams he took to the ring at Gee­long only one did not get a first-place rib­bon and that one got a sec­ond in­stead.

Mr Hogarth said the breed’s pop­u­lar­ity now was based on a num­ber of fac­tors.

“They were prob­a­bly un­der-rated for a long time,” he said.

“The breed has changed a lot too as peo­ple have brought in new ge­net­ics, es­pe­cially from New Zealand. They’ve stretched them out but also man­aged to keep the muscling in them.”

Low birth weights com­bined with ex­cel­lent car­cass at­tributes, par­tic­u­larly body length, have made South­downs sought af­ter by com­mer­cial pro­duc­ers.

Mr Hogarth said his breed­ing pro­gram aimed to main­tain the breed’s car­cass char­ac­ter­is­tics and muscling while breed­ing sheep that are not too tall.

“I re­ally want to breed the shorter, chunkier shape that the breed is so well-known for.

“They could get too tall if we’re not care­ful, so I choose the rams I use care­fully.”

Mr Hogarth said the ad­di­tion of the breed to Lamb­plan had also been a pos­i­tive move.

“A lot of peo­ple re­ally like to see fig­ures on the rams and it’s def­i­nitely a handy tool,” he said.

“You’ve still got to do a vis­ual as­sess­ment though be­cause that’s im­por­tant too.”

Three of the Kirk­dale Gee­long show team, in­clud­ing the cham­pion ram, will be of­fered as Lot 1 at the stud’s sale on November 15.

All up there will be 36 South­down rams for sale as well ass even South down Cha roll a is cross rams. The sale starts at 11am.

Pic­ture: KAROLIN MACGRE­GOR

CHUNKY CHAMPS: Andrew Hogarth and Aneika Cross­well with their four-year-old son Cooper and Kirk­dale’s grand cham­pion South­down ram and re­serve cham­pion ram from the Gee­long ring.

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