FEW men have had a greater influence on the Merino industry than Tom Padbury, who spent nearly 40 years at one of Australia's iconic studs, Collinsville, Mount Bryan.
One of only three studmasters in Collinsville's first century, he was custodian of the vast Mid North-based breeding dynasty in arguably its most successful period from 1969 to 1995.
A CSIRO survey conducted during the early 1980s estimated Collinsville had a direct influence on 30 per cent of the nation's wool clip. Tom says one of his greatest achievements was growing sales to more than 4000 rams a year a feat repeated three times.
During his tenure, Collinsville held many world records which still hold today including $450,000 for a Merino ram, and $280,000 for a Poll Merino ram both established in 1989.
Two years earlier, a pen of 10 Collinsville Merino ewes sold for $2000 each and $3250 for a single embryo.
Much of this success came from Tom's incredible foresight to breed dual-purpose sheep with wool cover and carcase, and ensure they were well-suited to their environmental conditions.
It is 15 years since he retired from Collinsville but the Adelaide octagerian's life-long passion for Merino sheep and their fibre continues.
He remains a highly respected figure in the sheep industry, working as an adviser and sheep classer for about a dozen clients in South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.
Tom's childhood was the perfect grounding in livestock on the family's stud property, Koojan in the Moora district of WA, 150 kilometres north of Perth.
His father Albany and grandfather William were talented stud breeders and during their combined lifetime they were involved in 24 different breeds of stud animals including Merinos, beef and dairy cattle, pigs and several horse breeds.
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