Terrick Merinos' 125 years of history moving to Lansdowne at Tambo

Sally Gall
By Sally Gall
Updated March 30 2022 - 2:55am, first published 2:00am
Lansdowne's Chris Turnbull inspecting sheep at a show. Picture: Bushshutterman Photography

The 125-year-old Terrick Merino Stud at Blackall is moving to a stud with a historic legacy just as long as its own.

The Turnbull family at Lansdowne, Tambo are in the process of purchasing the stud from Rick and Jenny Keogh for an undisclosed price.

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Lansdowne manager Christopher Turnbull said it was their intention to keep the stud separate from their own and run it alongside the Lansdowne Merino Stud.

He said it would have been a shame to have seen more than a century of breeding and all of the Keoghs' work over the last 20 years gone in a dispersal sale.

"It wouldn't be good to see Terrick clients go to NSW and Victoria for their rams - we hope they'll be following the stud over to us," he said. "The land type here, and the rainfall, is pretty similar to what the sheep are used to."

The sale includes 1500 stud ewes, ram lambs, ewe weaners and 30 sires, all with ASBV indexing.

In an interesting twist, the Turnbulls bought the entire Gowan poll Merino stud, part of the original Terrick Terrick stud breeding operation, in 2001, the same year that the Keoghs purchased the horn side of the business.

Rick Keogh said he was relieved to know that all their practices would be maintained under the new regime.

"We had the opportunity to break the stud up, and make more money in the process, for the genetics - there was a bit of interest in that," he said. "But 125 years of history won't be dissolved on my watch."

Mr Keogh said they got to the end of last year and felt something had to give.

"The pressures of the whole stud side of the business were getting too much for us, and we've always been believers in doing the job properly," he said. "Hume Turnbull had previously expressed an interest in the stud, so that's how it happened."

Chris Turnbull said there were good financial reasons for them to take Terrick Merinos on, as well as its genetic legacy, saying the amount of exclusion fencing that had taken place meant there was an ongoing strong need for Merino rams.

"We think it will improve our bottom line," he said.

Lansdowne stud begun in 1884

The Lansdowne Pastoral Company was formed in 1881 and purchased its first sheep in 1883, beginning a Merino stud in 1884, 12 years before the Australian Estates and Mortgage Co Ltd brought a Merino stud into being at Terrick Terrick in 1896.

Lansdowne has had a poll stud since 1944.

Mr Turnbull said Lansdowne had been a Haddon Rig Merino daughter stud for a bloodline base since the 1950s.

Genetics bought into the stud over the past 30 years include South Australian sires in 2005, and Boonoke sires bought in 2014 and in 2021.

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In addition to the Gowan poll Merino stud purchase, ewes bought over the years to complement their own sires include Canonbar stud ewes in 1995.

Mr Turnbull finished school at TSS at Southport a decade ago, going straight to the Northern Territory to work for CPC at Newcastle Waters and Carlton Hill, before gaining a sheep and wool scholarship to attend Marcus Oldham College at Geelong.

After completing a one-year agribusiness degree there, he worked on Cobungra, a Wagyu stud in Victoria's high country until April 2014, when drought was pinching hard back home at Tambo.

In 2017 he was appointed overseer of the flock operation at Lower Lansdowne, and was also named the inaugural winner of the Landmark Queensland Young Merino breeder award.

Chris Turnbull with the 2017 Landmark Queensland Young Merino Breeder award.

He has been Lansdowne's manager since October last year and said he was looking forward to working alongside Rick Keogh and take on all his knowledge, and introducing ASBV indexing to the Lansdowne stud.

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Lansdowne currently sells all its rams privately but Mr Turnbull said there was a possibility of holding either an on-property or off-property sale at Blackall.

"People are used to that with Terrick - it would be a shame to throw it out," he said.

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Sally Gall

Sally Gall

Senior journalist - Queensland Country Life/North Queensland Register

Based at Blackall, CW Qld, where I've raised a family, run Merino sheep and beef cattle, and helped develop a region - its history, tourism, education and communications.

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