These blokes have bred the some of the best tasting lambs in Australia. This is their secret...

Tony Manchester and his son John have managed to breed some of the highest eating quality lambs in Australia. On September 14, they will be offering up some of their top quality genetics at an on property Poll Dorset sale at Roseville.
Tony Manchester and his son John have managed to breed some of the highest eating quality lambs in Australia. On September 14, they will be offering up some of their top quality genetics at an on property Poll Dorset sale at Roseville.

Sponsored by JW Manchester and Co.

“If somebody is going to go out and spend $30 on a meal, I want to make sure it’s a good one!” 

This is the simple goal that has driven Tony Manchester for the last 25 years to breed Poll Dorsets with some of the best tasting lamb.  

According to figures from Sheep Genetics Australia and all other objective standards, his lambs are well above average in every carcass trait and measure of eating quality.

They also have above average cutting yields, which has left every butcher shop and abattoir he’s ever supplied clambering for more. Their customers too. 

So how has this humble Kingsvale stud owner achieved this incredible feet? Well the answer’s simple: he’s a pioneer in his field.

In the early, 90s he committed to a vision and he was prepared to put in the hard yards and do the research to make it happen. He started using genetics back before it was common practice and he closely monitors, measures and records every piece of data he can, to make sure he continues moving in the right direction.

Despite his success, he’s never been interested in hording his results. He isn’t trying to keep secrets. In fact, he says, his very purpose in embarking on this quest was to encourage the rest of the industry to follow suit.

On September 14, he will be offering up some of his top quality genetics at his on property Poll Dorset sale at Roseville, selling off 72 top quality rams. He has also invited Dr Andrew Swan – one of the nation’s leading authorities on lamb meat eating standards – to come along and speak on the day. 

“At the moment there’s no price advantage for producing higher quality eating meat but that’s why I wanted to invite Dr Swan. So he could inform us about the latest standards and the advantages of it...” Mr Manchester explained.

The stud operator has long believed the lamb industry needs a carcass type, like the cattle industry does. We also need to realise, he says, that as the human population grows so too does the market we’re selling into. We need to compete with producers in New Zealand and South America. If we want to compete in a cut throat global market place, we’re going to need to consistently produce the best animals.

Mr Manchester doesn’t do anythings by halves. When he puts his mind to something, he has the steely focus to see it through. He was born and raised on the land, working alongside his father on the family’s cattle and Corriedale stud. Eventually inherited the business and was in the beef industry for more than 20 years. 

However, it was in 1993 that he decided he wanted to focus on breeding Dorsets and the Corriedales. He started studying the genetics of his flock and making careful, calculated decisions about the selection process. As months turned to years, he would set himself small goals and continue to hit them. 

He’s weighed every fleece since 1976. He’s measured every carcass trait since 1996. And, he continues to scrutinize the cutting yields to this day. In time, he not only managed to increase both the clip weight and weining weight of his Corriedales, whilst simultaneously reducing the micro count of the wool. He has also increased lambing percentages while reducing birthing defects and complications across both studs. 

This year, his percentages are already sitting at 164pc and they’re turning off the Dorsets at 50kgs after just four months. The key to all of these things, he says, is time, patience, hard work and the humility to keep striving for better results. 

“In the industry, you’ve got to look at where you want to be and then develop the skills and find the genetics that are going to help you get there,” he explained.

“But, you have to realise that when it comes to genetics, it all moves very slowly… so you’ve got to be careful when you introduce a new ram that they’re the right one, because you don’t want to go backwards. That’s why you need to measure everything. And the bar has to keep going up too, you can’t let it drop back down.”

Mr Manchester believes it is always important to act with intent when carrying out the selection process. Mixing and matching genetics on a hunch and chasing growth for growth’s sake are also big no-nos. You’ve got to make sure you’re achieving growth in the right areas, he says. Balance is everything.

Mr Manchester believes that evidence based data and genetics are the future of the industry. That’s why he hopes as many people as possible take advantage of the opportunity to chat with Dr Swan next month. 

The sale will be held at Roseville Wool Shed, which is located about 20kms between Harden and Young on Back Creek Road, just on the edge of the village of Kingsvale. JW Manchester and Co. will also host a Corriedale sale on October 12, where it will auction off 40 rams.

Sponsored by JW Manchester and Co.

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