The Nivison family has been running merino sheep in the New England since leaving Scotland in 1839. During these 174 years of running merino's through droughts, floods, booms and busts, the sheep have been the backbone of the business.
The YALGOO STUD was founded in 1947 on ewes descended from the original Ohio flock which trace back to sheep imported from WA Grubb, Scone, Tasmania in the 1880's.
For the last 50 years, mainly Yalgoo sires have been used in the stud. A small number of ewes are artificially inseminated to outlier sires to bring in certain traits and retain flock linkage.
The Yalgoo ram breeding core consists of 650-700 stud ewes. Our stud sheep are run under strict commercial conditions in conjunction with a 15,000 head commercial flock at above district average stocking rates. The stud sheep also have to compete with a stud and commercial cattle enterprise.
Due to our environment the sheep are put under a high parasite burden in the summer months. High summer rainfall pressure has left us with a highly resistant flock to fleece rot and internal parasites.
The Yalgoo Flock: Past, Present...... Future?
First and Foremost, Yalgoo has and will always be predominately a commercial merino enterprise.
We are basically commercial breeders that wanted to put as much pressure on commercially relevant traits to enhance our commercial ewe base, using all means possible. For the best part of the last 5 decades we have been concentrating on the objective and measurable traits that make wool growers money. The good news for our clients is that we haven't been distracted by intangible traits and fads that hinder genetic progress. This ensures that genetic progress is both measurable and assured.
Yalgoo has been measuring and selecting based on economically important traits for 50 years. In the first 25 years the Yalgoo flock went from a 21 micron flock to a 19 micron flock. Wool cuts stayed predominantly around the 4-5 kg mark and body weights were fairly stagnant. Wool quality and structural traits were also improved. With the limiting technology and breeding tools available this was considered rapid genetic progress.
In 1997 Yalgoo were amongst the first to embrace sheep breeding values. Yalgoo was a 19 micron flock cutting 4.5 - 5 kgs of wool. In this new era of sheep breeding, breeders were able to set flock goals and benchmarks. Grant insisted that it was possible to aggressively reduce micron without sacrificing major economic traits like body size, fleece weight and fertility, whilst ensuring wool and structural traits were improved. In the ten years that followed, the Yalgoo flock average was reduced from 19 microns to 16.3 and eventually to its current 15.8 microns. Fleece Values have gone from $60 to $101.20 over the same period. (*Based on prices supplied by Elders 17/6/11: 2200 c/kg 16.3 micron wool and 1207c/kg 19 micron wool). Wool cut, fertility and body weight remained constant up until 2008. Fleece weights have risen exponentially in the past three years with a renewed focus. We are now at the stage where we are throwing up 15 micron rams that are in the top 1% of the breed for fleece weight.
As has always been the case, our goals are based around the performance of our commercial ewe flock. The stud is purely the vehicle in which to reach these goals. In the next ten years we believe the Yalgoo commercial ewe flock will be a 15 micron flock cutting 7 kgs of wool. Wool quality and animal conformation will remain an integral part of the Yalgoo package. These are ambitious goals, however the genetic progress we have made in the last 10 years, suggests they are attainable. We invite you to come along for the ride, please read on if these goals are of interest to you!