72 years of stud sheep
BREEDING stud sheep is a specialised business, and people who have done it well for a long time include the Ferguson family, Anna Villa stud, Weetulta, on Yorke Peninsula.
In the past 72 years, the family has been involved in four terminal sire breeds, and this year will run the 50th annual Anna Villa on-property sale.
Anthony Ferguson (pictured) and his father Don are foundation White Suffolk breeders, launching the stud in 1983, but their stud involvement all started with Anthony's late grandfather Archie. He started breeding Dorset Horns in 1940 then moved into Poll Dorsets.
Anna Villa has often received among the high prices at the Adelaide Elite Ram Sale, selling a White Suffolk ram at $8500 in 2011.
The stud has won many broad ribbons at the Royal Adelaide Show since its first champion in 1966 and has made the most of the best genetics through AI and ET programs.
"We love the challenge of trying to breed better rams each year," Anthony said.
Like many studs, Anna Villa notched a record-breaking sale in 2011, its 130 rams topping at $2800 and averaging $1003.
In contrast, at its first sale in 1962, a catalogue of 30 Dorset Horn rams topped at $65 averaging $44.50.
"We are trying to supply rams to what our clients are wanting," Anthony said. "Hopefully, we are doing this and people see the lambs bred from our lambs, at Dublin saleyards or over the fence," he said.
Anthony says it is a great pleasure to have established a strong repeat client base. Huntworth Pastoral Company, which bought Anna Villa's first flock ram in 1942, is still buying today.
He is optimistic that the British Breed selling season will again be buoyant with renewed interest in sheep in the prime cropping area of YP.