Ashrose - one of the nation's oldest Merino studs - is back in the hands of the Ashby family who founded it more than a century ago and grew it into a highly influential business.
North Ashrose stud, Gulnare, were the successful buyers after a competitive expressions of interest process, which attracted six strong offers, four of these from SA studs.
The signficant sale comprised 1450 Poll Merino sheep (800 mixed-age ewes, 344 ewe lambs and 290 ram lambs).
Also included were several stud sires, semen inventory, the stud prefix and client list.
Ashrose stud principal Tim Graetz said it was "a perfect fit" to see the stud they had run at Mundulla for the past eight years sell to a family with such a rich history and enthusiasm for breeding Merinos.
"Merino sheep are still my passion but it became a time thing," he said. "It was never in the plan to sell it but we weren't able to fit it into the business anymore."
During their ownership the Graetz family sold about 200 rams a year at auction and by private selection.
They bought Ashrose from Swiss Australia Farm Holding soon after they bought Glenstrae Pastoral Company at Willalooka on a walk-in walk-out basis.
Prior to this the stud was run at Tintinara by Brian Ashby and sons Simon and Charles, who took the original trading name when the WB Ashby & Sons partnership was dissolved in 1996.
At the same time Brian's brother, Graham and his sons Tom and Matt established the North Ashrose stud with their share of the ewes.
North Ashrose stud co-principal Matt Ashby - the great grandson of Ashrose stud's founder William Brownlow Ashby - said it was "too good an opportunity to miss".
"It was a rare opportunity to reacquire a business of historical value for the Ashby family," he said.
He said they were always looking for opportunities to grow the family business and this would expand their stud breeding ewe numbers by about 20 per cent.
"It will provide opportunities for generations to come, continuing the legacy and passion for breeding strong dual-purpose Merino sheep for the industry globally and Australia wide," he said.
"We have backed the long-term strong outlook for high quality meat and wool, which the Merino sheep are renowned for."
He said with their genetic background the Ashrose sheep should fit in well with the North Ashrose flock.
Ashrose's breeding ewes average 20 microns and cut 7.9 kilograms of wool at the most recent shearing.
"They are large-framed sheep with beautiful soft handling, white, heavy cutting and deep crimping wool with outstanding conformation," Matt said.
He said the two studs would initially be run separately for biosecurity reasons.
"Post that there will be an infusion of genetics into the Ashrose flock to progress the genetics to a level that we will be confident in offering them to our existing clients going forward," he said.
He said they were committed to servicing Ashrose's existing clients but sale dates and venues were yet to be confirmed.
"The strength in the genetics have been retained, which service a long-standing client base. I intend to maintain and improve these with great integrity," he said.
Elders stud stock marketing manager Tom Penna, who conducted the dispersal, was not surprised by the "strong offers".
"There was only $100,000 between the top and bottom offers so we went back to everyone and gave them a second chance to review their tenders," he said.
While we couldn't show any favouritism - and we didn't - we are delighted that the Ashbys won the tender.- Elders stud stock marketing manager Tom Penna
"We knew it wasn't going to suit everyone because we were dealing with a large investment and they needed the space to be able to run another 1400 sheep but it did suit a handful who really put their best offers forward.
"While we couldn't show any favouritism - and we didn't - we are delighted that the Ashbys won the tender."
Elders southern livestock manager Laryn Gogel said the company had been very proud to be associated with the Graetz family, who have grown the stud and put their stamp on it during their tenure.
"I am looking forward to where it might progress in the future," he said.
"It is a new chapter within the stud but the beauty is we don't lose the stud - it stays in its entirety."
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