Will Milroy, Tasmania
New Australian Poll Dorset Association Director Will Milroy started his now well-known Rangeview stud when he was just 10 years old, and despite leaving the industry for a period of time, his passion for the breed hasn’t waned. Dispersing Rangeview in 1999, Will spent over a decade gaining leadership and management experience in the oil and gas industry, before returning to farming. Having purchased a property at Pipers River with wife (and Tasmanian local) Libby, the Rangeview stud was reborn with stud ewes from the Rannoch and Gloroy dispersals. Now daughters Bridie and Paige also lend a helping hand.
“Poll Dorsets have always been in my blood,I like genetics and do a lot of pedigree research, I have a large collection of flock books and journals - it's just something I’ve always loved and been involved in,” Will said. The highlights of his time in the breed have been judging at the Sydney Royal and NSW Sheep Show Poll Dorset features, and recently topping the Adelaide Elite Stud Sale, he said. “From a personal satisfaction perspective, I enjoy watching clients' names in the paper topping the local markets here in Tasmania, as well as focussing on genetic progression and following certain traits - some of the rams I’ve used this year go back 15 year. Will has been president of the Tasmanian Region for the past four years, and the opening for a Tasmanian representative on the federal board seemed like a “good opportunity to help progress the breed into the future”.
“I want to focus on the integrity of the breed as a whole and the push into the future with eating quality - I can see it becoming a big part of ram production as lamb is becoming more and more expensive,” Will said. “The Poll Dorsets have three main advantages over other terminals, growth rate, lean meat yield and a consistent product - if we can combine those three with eating quality traits I can see the breed being a force into the future. But we also need to keep the Poll Dorset market relevant, producing the right product that the consumers want.
Challenges for the industry will be the Covid pandemic, animal welfare and growing market share, Will said, as well as encouraging more new breeders to join the association. “As the average age of the farmer is getting older and older, we need to encourage new members to join and participate to move the Poll Dorset breed forward,” he said.
Tania King, Victoria
Tania King has “breathed” Poll Dorsets “since day dot”, and looks forward to increasing her involvement with the breed further as an Australian Poll Dorset Association director. Her family founded the Shellal stud based at Hawkesdale, Victoria, in 1966, and Tania has been involved with the operation since 1999, raising her family and working in the stud before taking on further responsibility in 2012. She strongly believes Poll Dorsets are the leading terminal sire.
“As as long as breeders think like that they will continue to be, we can’t lose sight of why we are breeding them and why they are so needed in the prime lamb industry,” she said. On becoming a director of the APDA, Tania said it was her “time to step up and work for the breed and member, to do some more”. “Having been the secretary of the Central Victoria region, I enjoyed that very much, especially meeting people, and wanted to take that a step forward. In the past the board may not have listened to the members, and I hope that although I am only one of two new people going on that I can make a difference and make our breed better.”
Tania is keen to be a spokesperson for all members. “ I don’t think it is an achievement of one person, I want to do it for the breed - it is not a one man show. And I want to be guided by what they (members) want and that’s how we move forward,” she said. “Since I have taken on the secretary of Central region I’ve been active on social media, and I’ve designed our own stud’s website so I am pretty savvy - you’ve got to be a jack of all trades raising a family and running a farm. And I can talk to people and listen to people and hope to learn a lot while being on the board.”
Tania hopes to share some of the successes of her local region with the wider member base. “We try to involve members in a social environment, we have an annual family day that is hosted on one members property - its a social aspect that isn’t reliant on the show ring. And we want to try to get the youth involved, everyone says it, but you can only get them involved if you get the parents involved. It is not an easy thing to crack into Poll Dorsets. A lot of hard work goes in behind the scenes.”
Tania predicts the lamb selling season, much of which is still to come in Victoria, lamb prices will get as high if not higher then the same time last year. “ That is evident with how first-cross ewes are performing, that tells you how confident the commercial bloke is in our industry.”