Passionate breeders take on Yaralla stud

Passionate breeders take on Yaralla stud


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TAKING over the Yaralla Poll Dorset stud was a dream come true for Amanda Watkins, who now runs the operation with husband Scott, and parents Richard and Jenny Smith.

TAKING over the Yaralla Poll Dorset stud was a dream come true for Amanda Watkins, who now runs the operation with husband Scott, and parents Richard and Jenny Smith.

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They run the operation on a 1000-hectare property between Tocumwal and Blighty, on the Southern Riverina, which is mostly irrigated.

“We have a massive channel to the north of us that ends in the Edward River, off that there are spur channels that connect to spur channels that go into farms,” Ms Watkins said.

“We’ve got special new solar panel outlets that put water into our channel, which we can put onto our paddocks.”

Having grown up on a property south of Bendigo, she said they wanted to find a bigger, wetter property.

“It was a beautiful farm down there, but we were looking for more land and more water,” she said.

Ms Watkins and her family bought 500 ewes from Bev and Ian Bucknell 15 years ago, and moved to this new property soon after.

“Bev and Ian wanted to retire, and our name was put forward to take it on,” Ms Watkins said.

“I think they wanted to sell it as a whole, because years and years of hard work going into 25 different studs at a dispersal would have been really heartbreaking.”

She said she had been familiar with the Yaralla name for a few years, after purchasing one of their rams at a young age.

“I grew up on a sheep farm in Redesdale, where we ran about 5000 super ultra-fine Merinos, and my parents let me run my own little operation on the side,” she said.

“I bought a Yaralla ram when I was 12, and got 12 ewes from a stud in Bridgewater, SA, and it was just my own little thing.

“It was important to use a different breed so they wouldn’t get lost in the paddock, you’d know it was a Poll Dorset lamb and that it was mine.”

Little did she know she’d be running the stud many years later.

“And fate would have it, I would have the whole Yaralla flock by the time I was 25,” she said.

“We have tried to keep the flow of the Yaralla flock the same, because they were an incredibly good stud.”

Yaralla Poll Dorsets stud co-principal Amanda Watkins

She said they’ve continued conducting the stud’s annual on-property ram sale, with this year’s being its 43rd.

“We’re happy with where we’re at, we don’t average a massive amount, but we’re getting consistent averages,” she said.

“Of course we’re always looking to improve, but we’re happy with where we’re headed.”

She said they get plenty of return clients who are getting good results.

“We just want the rams to be well-structured, with good meat, who produce good lambs,” she said.

“We have a few spare rams, and we put them out with our own cross-bred and Merino ewes, as a way to see for ourselves how they’re performing.

“If we’re not having trouble, then in theory, it should be the same for our clients, which is really good information to have.”

She said they joined LambPlan not long after taking over the stud.

“We don’t rely solely on figures, but we use them as a tool to help guide clients with their purchases,” she said.

“Visual assessments are number one for us, but usually the better-figured ones tend to be the bigger, better-looking ones anyway.”

Another big passion of the family’s is showing, something Ms Watkins said she grew up doing.

“Showing is an off-farm thing you can do, you can go out and compare yours with everyone else’s to make sure you’re headed in the right direction,” she said.

“Growing up with the shows, you know a lot of people, it’s a good social event too.”

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