Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Quest for quality

Story Peter Austin
Photos Neale Edwards

As harsh at it can be at times, the Monaro district of southern NSW has some of the best sheep and cattle breeding country in eastern Australia, and is home to many pioneering and long-standing grazing families. The Glasson family has been on Jimenbuen for more than 60 years, in that time making it the epitome of a productive, well-managed property.

ImageIt's sheep classing time on the Glasson family's Jimenbuen Station in the rolling Monaro plains country of southern NSW, and the weathered woolshed is a hive of human and ovine activity. Such would be the case under any classing program, as young sheep eligible to take their place in the Merino breeding flock are mustered and assessed, but here it's a bit more complex.
For the third successive year, the Glassons are having their 3400 hoggets (the previous year's lambs) mid-side sampled, and simultaneously drenched, weighed and tagged. As a result, a major sheep handling operation is in progress involving at times six or seven people and high-tech gadgetry that would have boggled earlier owners or classers on the historic station.

ImageBut, like owners of other leading Monaro sheep stations, the Glassons have learned that tradition has little place in modern successful woolgrowing enterprises. The future is about new ideas, innovation and pushing the boundaries, a philosophy that David and Jane Glasson and David's parents, Mark and Pam - together, the shareholders of Jimenbuen Pastoral Company - see as the key to maintaining their 63-year hold on this choice chunk of Monaro farmland.

A Laserscan testing machine, leased from Riverina Wool Testing at Wagga, produces accurate measurements of each sheep's fibre characteristics. The information is available to the classer within 30 seconds and is used by him to aid his visual appraisal of each animal before a decision is made as to whether a ewe is kept as a Merino breeder, joined to a prime lamb sire, or culled.

Details of each sheep's test results are entered onto computer as it passes by the classer, along with the classer's assessment, providing a valuable record of how the flock is progressing each year, and how breeding programs are working. The one-stop sheep classing drill is the brainchild of Craig Wilson, a former stud overseer at nearby Hazeldean Merino stud and latterly a Wagga-based livestock consultant.

As well as sharing David Glasson's empathy for Hazeldean bloodlines (Jimenbuen has been using Hazeldean rams since the1960s), Craig likes working with David because "he's focused on making money out of sheep". And for David, the in-shed testing and classing enables him to "quantify what we're doing - breeding woolcutters of a type acceptable to the trade and that can thrive in the harsh Monaro environment. Story end

Full story: OUTBACK, April/May 2003

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