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History

The philosophy of Cranmore Merino Stud can really be encapsulated in the words of author Peter Taylor, who spent time at Cranmore Park researching material for his 1984 book Pastoral Properties of Australia:

Cranmore Park – a proud history

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Back in July 1950, PB Lefroy wrote that the guiding principle of Cranmore Merino Stud was “more of what is best and less of what is not so good.” That guiding principle is still in place today after over one hundred years of breeding merino rams and ewes.

The beginning of Cranmore Park

Cranmore Park’s 5200 hectares is situated 32 kilometres east of Moora. It was purchased by Frank (FFB) Wittenoom from Midland Railway Company as virgin country late in 1908, and improvement work began in 1909.

Frank’s nephew, EHB Lefroy, was transferred from Boolardy Station in the Murchison to Cranmore Park to take up management of the new property.

The foundation of Cranmore Merino Stud

The foundation stud sheep from which the Cranmore Merino Stud originated were bought from Boonoke (Peppin bloodline) in 1906 by FFB Wittenoom at Boolardy station.

Even back in those days, the focus was sheep with quality wool, well packed but free from body wrinkles. This tradition of easy-care sheep bred for Australian conditions continues today in the breeding objectives of the flock.
See more information on our breeding objectives here.
In 1917, it became evident that Boolardy with its low rainfall, recurring droughts and large paddocks was not suitable for breeding stud sheep. It was at this stage that the best of the stud sheep were transferred to Cranmore Park at Walebing. In 1909, EHB Lefroy, FFB Wittenoom’s nephew, became manager of Cranmore Park.
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Map of Walebing

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Frank and Edward Wittenoom in 1909. (Photo from Pastoral Properties of Australia.)

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Frank Wittenoom. (Reproduced by permission of the Battye Library, Western Australia.)

In 1923, a Peppin-based merino stud was dispersed due to the death of its owner, Mr Austin. The sheep from Murgha represented Mr Austin’s share of the flock established by Peppin and Sons in 1861. At this point, Cranmore Merino Stud purchased 502 two-year old mated ewes.

Progeny testing

By 1929, the number of Cranmore stud breeding ewes had reached 3500 and ram sales in one year had passed 900. At this stage the introduction of Peppin rams from New South Wales lead to great improvements in the flock. Along with the introduction of new Peppin rams came the introduction of single matings with progeny tests. Cranmore Merino Stud was the first stud in Australia to introduce progeny tests. The practice of testing up to twenty rams each year has been followed since with outstanding results in aiding towards the production of fine wooled, easy care, uniform sheep.

Cranmore Merino Stud has been a closed stud since 1945. It has been our experience here at Cranmore Merino Stud that out crossing or corrective mating of rather extreme types severely lessens the high all-round standard of uniformity of the sheep.

Selecting sires by judging their offspring rather than by complete reliance upon individual appearance has lead to the production of most profitable sheep by securing the maximum numbers with a high standard of uniformity.
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A 14-year-old P.B. Lefroy trains one of his ponies to be broken into harness, with the help of other family members.

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An old windmill that was used to generate electricity.

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Peter Lefroy and Colin Bayly pictured in front of the Cranmore Park homestead in 1950. Cranmore Park had its own polo team in those days.

Cranmore ram sales

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For many years the practice of progeny testing has been followed at Cranmore Merino Stud so that the rams are found which possess the highest potential capacity to produce the maximum number of desirable traits.
The first annual sale of stud and selected rams from Cranmore Merino Stud was held at Midland Junction in September 1951. Two hundred and forty rams were sold for an overall average price of £56.
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1954 Ram Sale catalogue

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Removing stained wool from the fleece.

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Shearing at Cranmore Park.

From the Introduction of the 1951 Ram Sale catalogue…

“What is now known as the Cranmore Park Stud was founded in 1906 at Boolardy Station, Yalgoo when 50 stud ewes and a stud ram of pure Peppin blood were purchased from Fs Falkiner & Sons of Boonoke, Conargo, NSW and during the following years, further stud sheep were obtained from this same stud. In 1917, it was decided that Cranmore Park had developed sufficiently to commence breeding of stud sheep and the best of the ewes from Boolardy were accordingly transferred and, with a number already at Cranmore Park, provided a total of approximately 600 breeding ewes.

In 1923, the well known Murgha Stud was dispersed when 502 stud ewes were purchased and from that date no ewes have been secured from outside sources. During those years, however, a number of rams have been obtained from various New South Wales studs, principally from Dalkeith.

For many years several well known stations have obtained their rams from Cranmore Park which is, of course, the largest stud of pure Peppin blood sheep in this state and the way in which the sheep bred from these rams have stood up to dry time is evidence of the sound mating methods which have been employed over the years. Furthermore, wool clips from these stations never fail to demand keen competition when offered at auction.

Cranmore Park rams are also known throughout the whole of the inside country and have done well wherever they have been used.”
See the current Ram Sale information here.

Steeped in history  …and science

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Dr and Mrs Hagedoorn and PB Lefroy inspect a progeny-tested ram named Hagedoorn at Cranmore Park in 1949. (Photo from Pastoral Properties of Australia.)
Drs Hagedoorn and Lush, two of the world’s leading authorities on animal breeding in their time (1955) personally informed Cranmore that a pure-bred sire judged solely by its appearance could not be relied upon one hundred percent but they estimated that the desirable characteristics that could be seen in an animal could be reproduced in the off-spring to the extent of 25 percent. They were strong supporters of the progeny testing regime that was put into place at Cranmore Merino Stud back in 1929.

Whilst in Western Australia, Dr Hagedoorn spoke at a meeting of Junior Farmers and asked his audience a question “when I want to buy rams that I can reasonably sure will give the desired result, how should I go about it?” The reply given by Dr Hagedoorn was “have a good look over any studs which you believe have the type of sheep you desire and select your rams from the one you find which most consistently produces what you want; one where there need be few culls and, if possible, a stud where out-crossing and corrective mating are not practiced. The sires at these studs should be selected from a top stud, not merely on their individual appearance but as the result of progeny testing.”

Dr Hagedoorn spent some time at Cranmore - he is the world’s leading exponent on the practical application of genetics to the everyday problems of breeders.

In 1950, EHB Lefroy wrote papers showing the importance of the use of science in breeding merino sheep. EHB Lefroy even went so far as to quote geneticist W. Bateson in saying “no one who is acquainted with Mendelian method will doubt that by its use practical breeders of animals and plants will benefit”.

EHB recognised genetics was the most central and fundamental component of animal breeding. It was EHB who was a loud opponent to buying rams simply based on appearance. He lamented that very high prices paid for rams at sales was often the result of skilful preparation of these rams and effective advertising rather than sound genetics.

Innovation at home at Cranmore Park

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The 2018 ram sale team conduct fat and muscle scanning.
Innovation has always had a home at Cranmore Park. If the tool needed for the job did not exist, it was invented; simply, practically and without fuss. PB Lefroy (Frank’s great nephew) had a flair for invention, as is shown by the widespread use of his practical ideas throughout Australia.

The Cranmore Cradle

A great example of practical innovation is PB’s invention of the mulesing cradle – the Cranmore Cradle.

Whilst mulesing was terrific innovation in animal welfare – the same cannot be said for mulesing and human welfare.

The traditional muelsing method was grueling on the farmer – taking place with the farmer using physical strength to restrain the sheep. This problem set PB’s fertile brain working and he came up with a cradle, which took the form of a horizontal wheel, capable of holding five lambs spreadeagled on their back. This is the most convenient position for mulesing, earmarking and other operations.

PB declined to patent the cradle instead preferring to give the design to a manufacturer in the hope the technique would be widely used to the benefit of the industry. The Cranmore Cradle is now the standard equipment used in mulesing across Australia, and internationally.
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The original Cranmore Cradle. It was designed by Peter Lefroy to make the mulesing operation easier to perform. (Photo from 'Pastoral Properties of Australia'.)

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Peter Lefroy who pioneered many new techniques at Cranmore Park.

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Peter Lefroy and his son Bruce with the original Cranmore Cradle designed in the 1930s.

Bugle Sheep Yards

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The curved sheep yards at Cranmore.
The design and construction of the sheep yards at Cranmore is an innovation in itself.

By the 1950s the original sheep yards were in bad repair and PB decided that it would be better to replace them than to continue trying to maintain them. A scarcity of timber meant that other materials were needed. PB discovered there was an almost unlimited supply of 44-gallon drums. He devised a method of cutting them and folding the metal to make rails for his new yards.

Next came the design of the sheep yards themselves. From his experience in handling sheep, PB knew that they were more willing to walk in a curve than in a straight line. So he designed the yards at Cranmore so they formed part of a big circle, with the curved sections leading to the race in the middle. Once again it was a design that became very popular in later years and, “bugle yards”, as they are now called, are commonplace.

The innovation continues

With increasing public concern over the ethical treatment of farm animals, Cranmore Merino Stud is again at the forefront of innovation.

The act of mulesing itself is under the spotlight – and everyone is looking for a solution. One of which would be sheep that simply did not require mulesing – that is, sheep with bare breech areas.
Whilst classing rams, Bruce and Kristin Lefroy noticed the absence of wool on the balls and breech of some of their rams. After speaking with geneticist Johan Greef, these rams, are now involved in trial work with the Western Australian Department of Agriculture in a bid to find the ultimate in easy-care merinos – the merino that does not need mulesing.
To read more, see the News items.

And so, Cranmore continues

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Cranmore Merino and Poll Merino genetics continue to improve the profitability and productivity of our clients.
At the end of 1952 after almost fifty years of service EHB Lefroy retired from management responsibilities, handing them on to his eldest son Peter Bruce (best known as PB) Lefroy. From PB the management of operations was handed on to his oldest son, Bruce Lefroy. Father and son, Bruce and Kristin, together with a team of excellent staff, run Cranmore Park with the view of maintaining the high quality of the past whilst seeking excellence in the future.
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Bruce Lefroy, the present manager of Cranmore Park. (Photo from 'Pastoral Properties of Australia'.)

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Father Bruce and sons, Kristin and Andrew Lefroy, together with a team of excellent staff, run Cranmore Park with the view of maintaining the high quality of the past whilst seeking excellence in the future.

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Cranmore Merinos today.

Excerpt from a letter to Cranmore Merino stud sale 25 August 1955.
Excerpt from an article in the Country Man 1955
Excerpt from Cranmore Park Annual Stud Ewe sale catalogue 2 November 1954:

The policy in building up Cranmore Park Merino Stud has been towards:
  • medium wool
  • dense wool covering
  • good staple
  • well-shaped legs
  • wide across the hips and back
  • absence of dip and with breadth across the wither
  • open faces
  • good mouths
  • sound feet
  • some frontal development
  • absence of wrinkles
  • freedom from hairy tip and broad fibres through the staple
  • fertility
  • high wool yield
  • uniformity of type.

Events

Dowerin Field Day

See us at the Dowerin Field Days
29–30 August, 2018

On-property Ram Sale

Wednesday 19 September, 2018
Sale commences 1pm
200 Merino and Poll Merino Rams

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Sunset at Cranmore

Conducting Agents

Landmark
Craig Williamson
Mob: 0429 813 988

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Above: Frank Wittenoom in 1874. (Photo from Pastoral Properties of Australia.)
Contact Us

Cranmore Farming Partnership
(formerly Boolardy Pastoral Co)

Located at:
615 Cranmore Road, Bindi-Bindi

Mailing Address:
RSM 427 Moora WA 6510

Kristin Lefroy
Tel: (08) 9654 9066
Fax: (08) 9654 9067
Email: kristinlefroy@cranmore.com.au

Conducting Agents

Landmark
Craig Williamson
Mob: 0429 813 988

  •  Location map of Cranmore

    Location map of Cranmore

Cranmore Park, Moora, Western Australia
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Like the sound of the easy-care, white wooled Cranmore Merino?

Contact us here at Cranmore Merinos for more information or attend our on-farm field day at Cranmore Park.

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