MerinoLink was established in 2011 and has been formally operating since March 2013.
We facilitate networks, innovation, technology, genetic opportunities and research to improve the production and profitability of Merinos around Australia. The education, information and research conducted by MerinoLink are primarily focused on being commercially focused.
MerinoLink’s founding members are from a wide range of sheep businesses with varying production systems. The Members have been brought together by a common enthusiasm for profitable Merino sheep and a desire to continue to build their businesses, client businesses and the sheep industries profitability as a whole.
MerinoLink is committed to assisting our members make better use of past and current research. In addition, MerinoLink aims to build networks and add value to existing and future research and development.
MerinoLink recognise the opportunities to work together to develop research projects for the future improvement of the Australian Sheep industry.
We aim to provide all members with access to industry organisations and facilitate a two way dissemination of information.
MerinoLink consist of producers and service providers moving our industry and members forward as fast and effectively as possible. This is made possible by MerinoLink’s engagement with members and industry, education of members, exploration of research ideas and exchange of the results.
Richard Keniry (Commercial Breeder)
Rick Baldwin (Ram Breeder Breeder)
Craig Wilson (Service Provider)
Sally Martin (Service Provider)
Steve Jarvis (Commercial Breeder)
David Davidson (Commercial Breeder)
Robert Mortimer (Ram Breeder)
Matt Crozier (Ram Breeder)
Lexi Cesnik (Service Provider)
Rich Keniry (current MerinoLink Chair) is a commercial wool breeder currently managing the family business, Kildara Pastoral Company based in Cumnock NSW. Kildara is 2500 ha grazing property where we run a mixed wool and sheep meat operation with approximately 250ha of grazing cereals each year. My father purchased the property in 1998, at this time the business was a mixed sheep, cattle and cropping operation and since 2008 the business has been 100% sheep focused.
Originally from Sydney the purchase of the farm in 1998 gave me an opportunity to explore & learn an unknown field, I worked on and off the property until 2005 when I finally decided to stay. I studied a Batchelor of Agriculture at the University of New England, Armidale and previously completed a Diploma of Marketing. In 2008, I spent 3 years with Virbac Animal health as their Sheep Product Manager and in 2011 I returned home to the family property with my wife Belinda.
I am extremely passionate about the sheep industry and believe that with the advances in technology and the availability of quality information sheep breeders have available to assist in decision making on farm, the future of the sheep industry is exciting.
I believe that with the right focus and dedication to research the future of the wool and sheep meat industry is positive and that is why I became a member of MerinoLink. I believe that commercial breeders should have access to relevant data and research that stud breeders do to help them make informed decisions and MerinoLink is a fantastic opportunity for commercial breeders to access this information.
Rick Baldwin – Rick was the founding chair of MerinoLink Limited 2012-2014, and is the Co-Principle of Bundilla Merino Stud. Rick has been actively involved in all aspects of production based merino breeding and assessment for the last 20 years.
The MerinoLink Group allows merino breeders to network and drive industry issues that the forum believes will have a positive impact on the future profitability of merino enterprises, and that is why Rick is very excited to be part of the MerinoLink Group.
Craig Wilson operates a Merino Sheep Genetic Consulting business (Craig Wilson & Associates) reaching across 3 states. Craig assists some of Australia’s most progressive and influential stud and commercial Merino businesses. Craig is a commercial woolgrower and also facilitates the Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge.
“My goal in business is to help clients reach maximum levels of genetic gain in their flocks, This progress will ensure their financial sustainability into the future. Merinolink can play an important role in arming the merino industry with precise and current information to help its members make great decisions in their businesses”.
Sally Martin was recently named amongst the 100 Women of Influence awards 2013 initiated by The Westpac Group and Financial Review and was the 2011 RIRDC NSW Rural Women’s Award Runner-Up. Sally has been using these opportunities to promote MerinoLink and the many programs she is involved with.
Sally grew up on a grazing property on the Monaro, NSW. After studying agriculture at University of Western Sydney Hawkesbury her career has taken a number of paths from working with NSW Department of Primary Industries to recently (April 2012) setting up her own consultancy business in Young NSW that services commerical and stud sheep producers and service providers.
Sally is passionate about rural communities, agriculture and more specifically the Australian sheep and wool industry. Often referred to as a ‘sheep tragic’, Sally has a great belief in the potential of a united wool and sheepmeat industry. Unifying these production systems via measurement and reason will provide clear direction for sheep producers and the industry as a whole.
Steve Jarvis is a commercial Merino breeder, in partnership with his wife Lydia they run a 500ha property Heathfield at Boorowa purely focusing on Merino sheep production joining 1400 Pastora blood ewes.
Steve believes Merinos are the most profitable operation for their situation and is continually striving to improve the profit drivers of fleece value and flock fertility.
Heathfield is stocked to capacity while maintaining ground cover at all times and Steve believes if his property is to be profitable he must work with nature and not against it. Steve is pleased to be involved with MerinoLink as a commercial grower and looks forward to helping the board drive MerinoLink forward.
Robert Mortimer – Robert returned to family farm to spend 8 years in share farmer / cropping system. During this time the NSW Ag Sheepo conducted research extension trials on the property. This work was a light bulb moment for Robert, realising the potential of using measurement to make real genetic change and gain. The formation of the Centre Plus ram breeding group followed with Robert taking on the breeding management role of the group. Centre Plus became part of the Australian Merino Society (AMS) a 3 tiered group breeding scheme involving 1,200 commercial farmers across Australia running over 3,000,000 breeding ewes. The AMS used SID AI on up to 110,000 ewes a year. The 8 years involved with AMS, working with leading geneticist across Australia was an immense learning curve, breaking new genetic ground and it proved the power one can get from working in a group to achieve collective goals.
Computers saw the introduction of BLUP EBV’s and by the end of the 80’s the group were able to march on adopting new technologies as they became available. This led to Robert being appointed to many industry liaison and advisory committees’. Robert played a key role in driving across flock evaluations to become reality and moving the multiple evaluation s to come together under Sheep Genetics.
Robert has been a member of the AAABG (Association for the Advancement of Animal Breeding & Genetics) organisation for over 20 years. In 2009 he was made a Fellow of the AAABG for services to the Sheep Industry. Robert is driven by a fascination in, and excitement for research and genetic change, and its role in the future of the Merino Industry. MerinoLink is perfectly placed to help lead the Merino Industry to greater prosperity.
Matt Crozier: Matt is the General Manager of Cavan Station and Bogo Merino and Poll Merino Studs based at Yass. Cavan Station operates a large commercial flock of approx. 35,000 merino sheep joining around 15,000 ewes and a self-replacing Angus cattle herd of 1400 breeding cows. Bogo produces productive, commercially focused, balanced merino rams for an array of clients throughout NSW and VIC.
Matt cut his teeth jackerooing at F S Falkiner company properties Boonoke, Wanganella, Zara and Barratta before heading off to study Agriculture and Farm Management at Wagga and Orange Ag colleges. After managing his family grazing operations at Bungendore throughout the 1990’s Matt turned his hand to futures trading speculating on interest rate, currency and agricultural commodity futures. After a 5 year stint in the financial markets Matt returned to the Southern Tablelands to manage various grazing and mixed farming properties for various clients before settling at Cavan 7 years ago.
Matt has been a member of MerinoLink for 6 years and is passionate about promoting the merino industry as a profitable and rewarding enterprise and career choice. Matt is a sponsor and advocate of the Peter Westblade Scholarship program and actively assists young people in the development of their careers in the sheep and wool industry.
Lexi Cesnik: Lexi grew up on a commercial farm at Tarcutta, NSW on which her family run Merino Sheep. She completed an Undergraduate course in Agriculture at Charles Sturt University in 2014, and also the Post-graduate certificate in Agricultural Consulting through University of New England in 2017.
During her time at university she was a part of the Australian Wool Innovations, National Merino Challenge (AWI NMC) for 2 years. The AWI NMC presented many sides of the Merino industry include new and emerging technologies within the sheep industry, which was the main factor in her choice to pursue a career in the sheep and wool industry.
In 2015 Lexi received a position within MLA donor Companies Livestock Consulting Internship Project (facilitated by Meridian Agriculture) as an employee of Sally Martin Consulting (Young) and Moses & Son Woolbroking (Temora). Lexi’s Role within the Livestock Consulting Internship was extremely dynamic and flexible. Through the internship Lexi had the opportunity to make meaningful contribution to the sheep and wool industry by running an Industry Supported Project (Vitamin and Supplement trial), as well as a project for the MLA Donor company (benefits and Barriers to the adoption of Precision Sheep Management). Lexi’s passions lie in the areas on increasing on farm efficiencies through the use of Precision Management and helping the next generation of industry specialists make it happen.
Lexi Joined MerinoLink to increase her knowledge and skills and also to be surrounded by likeminded people who are passionate about sheep and wool production and increasing the productivity, profitability and sustainability of this amazing industry. Lexi wishes to become a MerinoLink board member to help ensure the future of quality independent sheep research and also the adoption of technologies that are available to stud and commercial producers.
Previous Board Members
Ross Baldwin – Ross is a leading producer and advisor to the sheep and wool industry, and a widely-respected breeder of high fertility stud and commercial Merinos. Ross is co-principal of Bundilla Merinos, a family operation based at Young and Orange, NSW, focusing on genetic development and management systems to improve profitability and long term sustainability in the sheep industry.
Ross is a graduate of Wagga Wagga Agricultural College with a background of 14 years in corporate agriculture for Scottish Australian and Naroo Pastoral Companies, managing properties in NSW, Tasmania and WA.
Ross consults to corporate and family farming operations across NSW and Victoria on sheep breeding and management. He has served in an advisory capacity to a number of sheep research and development bodies including Meat & Livestock Australia (“MLA”) and Australian Wool Innovation (“AWI”) and the former Australian Wool Board. Ross is a founding member and past Chairman of the South West Slopes Merino Breeders Association.
Ross is interested in continuing to develop strategies to build close relationships with research organisations, agribusiness partners, financial and farm business associates, processors and marketers of our sheep products will achieve the goals of MerinoLink. These relationships have the potential to lift profitability of the sheep industry enormously.
James Armstrong returned home to the family farm at Cassilis (east of Dubbo) in 2008, where he and his father Cam run two medium wool Merino studs, Cassilis Park and Mega Merinos Australia (based on South African bloodlines). Being the fourth generation of the family to manage the Cassilis Park stud James is enthusiastic about the future of Merino production in Australia. His passion for Merinos and farming when growing up was further developed during a degree in Agricultural Science at Sydney University, as well as during the time he spent in the Riverina working as a Jackaroo, Stud Groom and eventually Overseer at the Uardry Merino Stud.
James is committed to breeding profitable Merinos and believes that this is best achieved using selection that has a healthy balance between objective measurement, visual assessment, breeding performance, industry benchmarking, and incorporating new technologies such as genomics.
Merino enterprises are consistently among the most profitable businesses across most Australian environments. However, the profitability of Merinos is seldom promoted, that is why MerinoLink has been established. We are open for anyone to join and aim to enhance members businesses, which is vital for our industry. It offers a unique platform where all sections of our industry can share successful ideas, techniques and one where innovations can to be promoted, whilst also respecting proven past practices. The opportunity MerinoLink offers to sheep producers to network, innovate and ultimately drive new research and innovation towards creating and sustaining more profitable sheep businesses is enormous and exciting.
Michael Field, T.A. Field Estates Pty Ltd living at Benangaroo and is married with three teenage children. Benangaroo is 2,720 hectares on the Murrumbidgee River, running 8,400 Merino breeding ewes plus followers of Hazeldean blood. Benangaroo also runs a small herd of about 120 cows, trades cattle when market and seasons permit and in the past has had up to 400 hectares of winter cropping.
Average micron across the flock is 18.5 in the breeding ewes and they cut close to 6kg greasy in May 2013. We use the FP index. Michael also owns two other properties, Congi at Woolbrook and Wyvern at Carrathool, giving three very different climatic regions and exposure to the wool market across super fine, fine and medium wool production types.
The company has been in existence for over 100 years and Michael is the 4th generation to be running it. Michael sees an extremely positive future for wool and sheep, and uses all tools available to for achieving their goals, and proactive marketing of their wool clips. Michael became a founding director of MerinoLink to ensure it has a strong commercial focus and encourages all members to spread the word about MerinoLink and support us to achieve the group’s goals.
Matthew Coddington is Co- Principal Roseville Park Merino Stud and NSW Farmer of the Year 2013. Together with his wife Cherie, they own and manage Roseville Park Merino Stud servicing a client base of 700 and selling between 3000 – 3500 doses of semen annually and actively promote rams with Australian Sheep Breeding Values. Matthew has always used genetic benchmarking within the stud and has been involved with industry wether trials, sire evaluation, Sheep Genetics and the genomics program’s since their inception.
Why did you join MerinoLink? “Joining MerinoLink was a natural part of our stud’s evolution into genetic benchmarking and an opportunity to share my passion with the industry and learn more information. MerinoLink’s’ charter to education and engagement are what excites me most about being involved with the group.
MerinoLink members are achieving on farm labour efficiencies and increasing the profitability of Merino enterprises through genetic gain and information that MerinoLink has and can provide. MerinoLink has had a direct influence on research and development within the Merino industry and the fact that the board are working closely with industry bodies has enabled this to happen. I enjoy the concept of being able to network with “like-minded “people that are also passionate about the future of the Merino industry. Being a part of the MerinoLink board also helps me to represent the industry better in my role as Chairman of NSW Stud Merino Breeders Scientific Liaison committee and the Merino Consultative group advising to AWI on Sheep Genetics. It was very encouraging to see the first MerinoLink conference was such a great success with over 130 people attending and the average age of attendees 43 years. With the average age of Australian farmers currently at 53 (2012), it is fantastic that MerinoLink is able to encourage young people which will continue to be an integral role of MerinoLink into the future.”
Marty Moses – Moses & Son Managing Director, Temora – Marty is the fourth generation family member to manage Moses and Son Wool Broking business established in 1920. Marty started work in the family business in 1980 as a Storeman after 5 years working in the electrical and petroleum industries. Marty progressed through the various facets of the business gaining the necessary experience and qualifications to be appointed Managing Director in 1993.
Marty is actively involved in both the wool and sheep Industries, and involved with various community and sporting bodies. Most notably his service as foundation member and Director of the Inland Wool Brokers Association, Yennora Wool Brokers and Director representing Brokers on the board of the Australian Wool Exchange Limited. In more recent years Marty has pursued the benefits Merino enterprises and the opportunities that arise in genetic variance in the Merino breed, which motivated him to be involved in the PWMMC, establish the Bluechip Livestock Young Sire Program and Sire evaluation and more recently take on his directorship with MerinoLink and Peter Westblade Scholarship.
Carol Huggins and her husband Stephen run the 10,000 head Woodpark Poll Merino stud and commercial Merino enterprise at ‘Eurolie”, Hay in southern NSW. The stud has been breeding Poll Merino sheep for 25 years. Stephen and Carol took over its management 10 years ago. Carol came to the Hay plains from a sixth-generation WA mixed farming and pastoral background via a career in strategic planning, facilitation, media, marketing and business planning.
Carol’s degree in Rural Journalism included journalism major and a Business (Agriculture) minor. A former Senior news journalist with The Land newspaper, Carol has also worked with the Kondinin Group, Stock & Land newspaper and freelance clients including ABC Rural Online. Carol was also a farm business planning facilitator with the Farming for the Future program and an associate consultant with agribusiness and environmental consultants Booth Associates. Carol’s role in communication and extension included time with the award-winning communications team in CSIRO’s Land and Water research division, and the Rice CRC. Sheep industry experience includes a role as a member of the grower reference group for TMC Merino Pool and committee roles on Riverina Merino and the Hay Sheep Show.
As a former member of the CSIRO Land and Water team which successfully applied for the Lower Murrumbidgee to be named UNESCO’s first global reference basin for its HELP program focused on researchers and people working together, Carol is acutely aware of the importance of stakeholder input into developing research imperatives to deliver useful outcomes which are more likely to be implemented on the ground.
These experiences, a commitment to Australian agriculture and a belief in the Merino industry mean Carol is excited by MerinoLink’s potential. She believes MerinoLink brings opportunity – and responsibility – for sheep breeders to have greater impact on their industry’s research priorities and decision making while gaining better access to useful, value-added information to help their breeding programs and businesses.
Mal Peake – Mal has been manager of the Bogo Merino Stud since the establishment of the stud in 1996. The Stud’s focus has always been and will continue to be the production of profitable genetics run under commercial conditions. To achieve this outcome a balance of objective measurement, genetic analysis, benchmarking and visual assessment in selection decisions are employed.
In April 2014, the stud was purchased in its entirety by Cavan Station, Yass and relocated to ‘Ravenswood’, one of the Cavan Station properties. Cavan Station has a large commercial flock of some 35,000 sheep, 1,400 Angus breeders and an opportunity cropping program.
MerinoLink is proving to be a great conduit for the provision of research and dissemination of information important to the profitability of commercial and seed stock producers alike.
Involvement of younger people in the industry is vital to the future of the industry and MerinoLink is well placed to promote the positive attributes of the industry and thus make it more attractive to younger generations.
Mal looks forward to working with fellow board members and the wider MerinoLink membership in pursuit of MerinoLinks goals and to the benefit of the industry as a whole.