Merino meets Gourmet in Gundy

BY GRACE COBB

Gourmet in Gundy is the Darling Downs premier food and wine festival, and this year there is something new on the menu – merino.

Karbullah poll merino stud will be supplying the lamb for the cooking demonstrations with celebrity chef Dominique Rizzo from Brisbane.

The merino meat will be enjoyed by the expected hundreds of gourmet food enthusiasts.

Karbullah operates on 3240 hectares of brigalow country near Goondiwindi and is home to Mark and Vicki Murphy and their family.

The Murphy’s are confident their product will be well received.

The family-run sheep stud in southern Queensland is redefining the Merino brand with dual-purpose merinos – Merino lambs with high emphasis on wool and strong carcass characteristics.

The operation currently runs 1100 stud ewes and produces 300 stud rams for sale annually.

The Karbullah stud flock yields an average of 19-19.5 micron wool and the Murphy’s, as a selection tool in the flock, have not drenched the ewe or ram base for worms since 1992.

The Karbullah team partially credits technological advancements for their improved stock management: data collection, efficiency and accuracy.

Mr Murphy cited electronic tags, wands, the Lifetime Animal Database Device, and more efficient management programs as reasons for classing and joining decisions being made so much easier.

The Murphys saw the introduction of online sheep genetics program Merino Select on 2003 as an opportunity to measure various productive traits that could then be converted into breeding values and utilised in ram breeding and for their clients to use in ram selection.

“We can now measure and benchmark carcass, wool and fertility traits and use this data to improve our flock.

“If you don’t measure, you cannot improve,” Mr Murphy said.

“For us, the improvements in fat and muscle in our flock has led to better lamb survival rates, worm resilience and a hardy strong ewe base.

“We have a duty of care to be much better in this space and as a consequence there is also a far better economic outcome.”

The stud scans fat and muscle on lambs each year at eight months of age, allowing them to benchmark within the industry.

That data is then sent to Sheep Genetics to form Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBV’s) together with any wool data and parenting details.

“This data has led to fast tracking our carcass quality and more efficient sheep. This has also been passed on to our clients’ flocks, and they are reaping the benefits,” Mr Murphy said.

The Murphys want growers to know that they can produce better processing wool that can handle the environment challenges with no chemical interventions, while reducing running costs and increasing output.

My Murphy and his team are now focusing on Karbullah’s competitiveness within the prime lamb industry, and consider themselves lucky to have a wool value, both fleece and skin, in addition to the carcass value.

“The industry is moving strongly into eating qualities, and we feel we have a wonderful product to deliver,” He said.

“The implementation of breeding values in the industry has been fantastic and we are well represented in this space with our genetics.”