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
The beginning of Cranmore Park
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
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.
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.
A 14-year-old P.B. Lefroy trains one of his ponies to be broken into harness, with the help of other family members.
An old windmill that was used to generate electricity.
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
From the Introduction of the 1951 Ram Sale catalogue…
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.”
Steeped in history …and science
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
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.
The original Cranmore Cradle. It was designed by Peter Lefroy to make the mulesing operation easier to perform. (Photo from 'Pastoral Properties of Australia'.)
Peter Lefroy who pioneered many new techniques at Cranmore Park.
Peter Lefroy and his son Bruce with the original Cranmore Cradle designed in the 1930s.
Bugle Sheep Yards
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
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.
And so, Cranmore continues
Bruce Lefroy, the present manager of Cranmore Park. (Photo from 'Pastoral Properties of Australia'.)
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.
Cranmore Merinos today.
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
- high wool yield
- uniformity of type.
Dowerin Field Day
See us at the Dowerin Field Days
28–29 August, 2019
On-property Ram Sale
Wednesday 25 September, 2019
Sale commences 1pm
125 Merinos and 75 Poll Merinos
Mob: 0429 813 988
Cranmore Farming Partnership
(formerly Boolardy Pastoral Co.)
615 Cranmore Road, Bindi-Bindi
RSM 427 Moora WA 6510
Tel: (08) 9654 9066
Fax: (08) 9654 9067
Mob: 0429 813 988
Location map of Cranmore