ARTICLE: Young Breeder Goes Back To The Future

Article by Nicole Sharp, published in the Gore Ensign, 3 August 2016, Page 43

Jack Robertson is wise beyond his years when it comes to breeding stud Romneys.

The 13-year-old Blue Mountain College pupil is a fifth-generation breeder, who started his own stud, Merryvale, last year.

Merryvale was the name of the original family stud that was started in 1920.

The stud name had been discarded by previous owners who had bought it from the family, but last year, Jack’s parents Blair and Sally went to the Romney council to get permission to use it again.

Jack said he enjoyed being around sheep, so when he was given the opportunity to start his own stud, it was an offer to good to refuse.

“I wanted some sheep to look after and to breed from there . . . I like Romneys. They have good mothering ability and they have lots of lambs.”

Last year, the Merryvale stud had its first lot of lambs, which run on the 397ha family farm at Waikoikoi.

Jack said there was a range of traits he looked for in his Romneys, but the main three were good constitution, good bone and good wool.

He started the stud with some ewes from Mr Robertson’s Merrydowns stud and buying five of Dave Wylie’s top ewes and four ewe lambs.

The ewes performed well, as Jack recorded a 165% lambing percentage last year, with 73 ewes and 73 lambs.

“I beat Dad by 5%,” he said.

He only had 30 ewe lambs left and 11 ram lambs, as a lot had been sent to the works.

“I do like culling as well.”

Jack’s process when it comes to selecting his breeding ewes and rams to sell, includes making sure there is no colour in the wool, they have good feet, are clean shearing and have long, strong wool.

“They’re very good to handle and are good natured stock with their lambs.”

The lambs that made it through Jack’s two cullings were to top of his flock, some were exhibited at the Gore A & P Show earlier this year.

The Robertsons attend the Gore Show each year, and Jack has already had his goals set for the next show.

“I want to beat Trevor McCall in all the breeds,” he said.

His future goal for the Merryvale stud was to keep growing the size of his flock and to sell all of his rams at the onfarm sale this year.

“I’d like a few more ram lambs to sell, and to get them big and strong . . . I’m lucky Dad has helped me quite a lot along the way, giving me a few ewes and using three of his rams last year.”

When he was not in the sheep paddock, he was on the rugby field for the Heriot-Tapanui combined team.

Jack was also named in the South-West under 65kg representative team this year.

“I also like shooting, claybird shooting and .22 shooting.”

Big boys . . . Jack Robertson looks over some of the Merryvale and Merrydowns rams in the paddock, gearing up for his first ram sale this year. PHOTO: Nicole Sharp

Stocking up . . . Some of Jack Robertson’s Merryvale stud ewe lambs with some of this father’s Merrydowns stud ewe lambs, on crop on the Waikoikoi property.