GEORGE McKenzie was just a teenager, but he already had a new vision for the family Merino breeding and wool production operation.
So at the age of 17 his father Ron purchased him a flock of 25 stud ewes from nearby Wurrook and the foundations for Montrose Hill Stud were in place. That was 50 years ago.
For Mr McKenzie and his wife Helen, the golden anniversary of that formative year has produced the thrill of a lifetime – winning the supreme Merino exhibit at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show (ASWS) in Bendigo, from 853 Merino and Poll Merino entries. And they won it with a ewe, making it all the more satisfying.
“This is the biggest thing I have won in 33 years. It’s maybe the most important thing I have ever won,” Mr McKenzie said.
“I’ve won a few major grand championships around country shows and got to the final draft a few times here in Bendigo, but I have never won anything like this,” he said.
Mr McKenzie, who formally registered Montrose Hill Stud 34 years ago after those early beginnings. He achieved the success with all-conquering Montrose Hill Rosie - a six-tooth ultrafine ewe.
With fleece measurements of 15.5 micron, 2.7 standard deviation and a comfort factor of 99.7 per cent, Rosie is by a Montrose Hill home bred sire (032) who was sashed champion superfine ram at Bendigo two years ago.
Rosie was head and shoulders above everything she lined up against in the lead up to Bendigo. She was shown three times in 2017 for three grand championships and then this year was grand champion superfine merino at Balmoral in her only public showing before the ASWS.
The McKenzie’s intention after Bendigo was to take Rosie to the National Merino Show and Sale in Dubbo.
“With her so heavy in lamb, expected to drop early September (just weeks after Dubbo), we will be consulting a vet to determine whether or not she will be able to travel,” he said.
It was not long after Bendigo though that Mr McKenzie made the call not to show her at Dubbo, with Rosie’s health not as good as it should have been.
With her long-term future as a breeding prospect the priority, her condition reached the point where Mr McKenzie made the call for surgery to save Rosie’s life.
He said while it was disappointing not to get to Dubbo and then lose her twins, importantly Rosie had recovered and her future would now be at stud, where she would always hold a special place as she hopefully produces a new generation of champions.
The supreme merino exhibit was not Montrose Hill’s only big prize at the ASWS this year. The Illabarook-based operation also took out the champion superfine fleece from the 2017 grand champion superfine ram at Balmoral, Ballarat and Hamilton.
While Montrose Hill continues to specialise in producing high quality fine and superfine wool, it will also this year offer an outstanding line-up of Poll Merinos at its annual property ram sale on Monday, October 29.
The Montrose Hill Poll stud was registered in 2016 with the purchase of a Pendarra Poll ram and semen from Yarrawonga.
The field day display on Friday, October 19, will feature Montrose Hill stud sires, show ewes, sale rams and reserve grade rams.
■Details: For more information phone 03 5342 2265 or 0428 940 066, or email firstname.lastname@example.org