VISITORS to the Southern Victorian Merino Field Day will discover that behind the production of wool there is diversity of studs and flocks.
This year's field day attracted nine studs - large and small, young and old, and all with their own unique bloodline and wool type.
The Walton family's Wurrook, at Rokewood, the state's largest and oldest Merino stud, is arguably one of the most successful.
Paul Walton said all 200 of the stud's auction rams would be on display.
Wurrook's flock of 5000 ewes has a Merryville background and cuts 17.5-18-micron wool.
Paul said he had no intention of going any finer, preferring to put the breeding emphasis on increasing the size of sheep and fleece weight.
Paul described the Wurrook sheep as producing "a well-nourished wool and more than capable of handling Victoria's Mediterranean climate".
On show this Sunday will be Wurrook first-drop polled sale rams.
The Wurrook flock, established by the Russell family in the mid-19th century, has been in the hands of the Walton family for 57 years.
Andrew and Sally Davis's Samui stud, at Lake Bolac, is celebrating its 10th birthday with a display of short-wool and long-wool rams, including its show team and 35 sale rams.
Sally said Samui was finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after a big effort to feed 8000 ewes through the drought, only to be hit by floods this year.
The Samui flock, based on the Wurrook bloodline, cuts an 18.2-micron clip.
Coryule, one of the youngest studs on display, is based on the Nerstane bloodline.
Coryule joins 2000 Merino ewes and runs a prime lamb flock of 2000 first-cross ewes.
Also relatively new to the stud scene is the Ioness Poll stud of Rob Coutts, at Lake Bolac.
Rob is determined to breed an easy-care, plain-bodied sheep that doesn't need to be mulesed, which is why recent introductions to the stud include the plain-bodied Glenlea Park and Severn Park bloodlines.
Rob said visitors on Sunday could inspect a cross-section of the Ioness Poll flock.
"I believe if you want to sell rams you have to be prepared to show clients what the rams can produce," he said.
Field day secretary Sandy Jelbart said any breeders who wanted to breed a versatile sheep that could survive and perform in the cold, wet Ballarat district should visit his Strathcona display, at Carngham.
The Strathcona sheep, based on the Roseville Park and Woodpark bloodlines, would be among the largest of sheep on display.
Sandy described his sheep as big, plain-bodied types that cut an average of 7.5kg of 18-20-micron wool. He says his lambs cut 3kg of wool at 8-9 months.
Meanwhile, fertility and soft-handling crimpy wools are the priorities for Pat Millear's Stud Park South flock at Willaura.
Pat said the display of sheep, which includes the Wallaloo Park and Langdene bloodline, would include young stud ewes and commercial drafts of sheep, which this year cut 6-7kg of 20-micron wool with an exceptional yield of 76 per cent.
Pat said the fertility was highlighted by this year's pregnancy scanning rate of 153 per cent. Stud Park South will also have 60 14-month-old rams on offer.
Paul and Felicity Brady, of Stavely Park stud, at Stavely, believe their display of rams have all the right combination of "wide meaty bodies, softy crimpy wool, easy care and fertility".
Paul, who says he has a passion for breeding good sheep, has never been one to be tied down to a particular bloodline, which is why Charinga, Wallaloo Park, Panorama Poll and Gunallo appear in the Stavely Park bloodlines.
The Bradys run a commercial flock of 5000 ewes averaging 18.8-micron.
The other two studs are George and Helen's Montrose Hill, at Illabarook, and the Boorana stud, managed by William Lynch, at Woorndoo.
The Montrose Hill stud is based on a Merryville-Wurrook bloodline, while Boorana has a background based on soft-rolling skin bloodline from the Stockton and Severn Park studs.