Victorian bred ram grabs screen role

Victorian bred Dorset ram makes the big time on screen

Sheep
FOR SHOW: A judging scene from soon-to-be-released movie, Rams, with Michael Caton and Sam Neill as brothers showing their prized rams.

FOR SHOW: A judging scene from soon-to-be-released movie, Rams, with Michael Caton and Sam Neill as brothers showing their prized rams.

Aa

A soon-to-released movie co-staring a couple of Dorset Horn rams will give the breed a lift.

Aa

Robert Grieve is an unabashed cheerleader for the Dorset Horn - a breed with which he had a long connection..

When he had a chance to further promote his favorite breed to the masses, he grasped the opportunity.

That opportunity turned out to be providing one of the rams that starred in the soon-to-released movie, 'Rams'.

In the movie actors Michael Caton and Sam Neill play estranged brothers Les and Colin in remote Western Australia, both still breeding from their family's prized bloodlines.

The whole thing started around two years ago when the producers of the proposed movie wanted Dorset Horn rams for filming in Mount Barker in Western Australia.

Mr Grieve said a number of phone calls and inspections and meetings ensued before he provided the ram that turned into a star, along with four other rams.

HISTORY: Victorian sheep producer Robert Grieve, Clarkes Hill, operates the oldest Dorset Horn stud in Australia, pictured with dog Ruby.

HISTORY: Victorian sheep producer Robert Grieve, Clarkes Hill, operates the oldest Dorset Horn stud in Australia, pictured with dog Ruby.

He said the five rams were inspected and their horns measured and eventually in November 2019 the rams were accepted and heading for WA.

That brought about an eight-day road trip - but only after any seeds or plant matter was removed from the rams.

Mr Grieve said he eventually loaded up his ute and headed for Mt Barker.

While in WA he visited the site of the cottage purpose built for the movie.

He said the buildings followed every detail of a 1950s house.

Mr Grieve said there was only 16 Dorset Horn studs remaining in Australia after one closed recently.

"There aren't many left. Probably about 600 sheep left in Australia," he said.

The rarity of the breed was one of the attractions for the producers of the movie.

Survival

Mr Grieve said his Hillend stud and was the oldest in Australia, founded in 1931.

The Dorset stud was started at the Cotswolds near the Tullaroop Reservoir.

He said the opportunity to promote the breed and put it in front of people.

"You've got to go with it when they ring up and want them, if it's going to put the breed out there - it was too good an opportunity to let slip," he said.

The downside was that the trip to WA meant Mr Grieves missed exhibiting his sheep at the local Clunes show for the first time in 35 years.

"But I thought it was too good an opportunity to worry about staying home for the show," he said.

Mr Grieve said the Dorset Horn studs were declining with most breeders got only 20 to 30 ewes.

He said his and wife Judith's daughters Caitlin and Eleanor would be interested in taking the stud on.

He said the coronavirus restrictions that saw the cancellation of local shows was a big hit to the breeds but more so to the social aspects of those occasions.

"Getting to meet your fellow breeders and have a chat, that's more missed than showing the sheep," he said.

"It's affecting a lot of breeds that haven't been ale to get out and be recognised for marketing purposes.

"We'll come out the other end stronger."

Mr Grieve said the challenge would be get people back interested in showing and running those events once restrictions have been removed.

The ram in the co-staring role was supplied by Sue McGoldrick who runs the Binbadeen Dorset studs with St Lawrence's Central School, Coonabrabran, NSW.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by