UPDATE: A SWING away from putting terminal sires over older Merino ewes is beginning to gain momentum.
When poor wool prices were clashing with good lamb returns, many Merino producers were putting terminal sires over old Merino ewes to generate cash flow.
But if anecdotal evidence heard by breeders at last week's Loddon Valley Stud Merino field day is any indication, that trend may be reversing.
Field day president John Humbert, who runs the Kedleston Park Merino and Poll Merino studs at Calivil, said there was a big jump in attendance and interest in the group's sheep, on display at Serpentine as well as three near-by studs.
He put part of the renewed interest in Merinos down to the "teetering" lamb market.
"We've believed that joining old ewes back to Merinos has been happening for a couple of years, and now producers are buying an extra couple of rams to join to their old ewes, rather than terminals," Mr Humbert said. "Certainly it's one of the factors we believe we are seeing more interest in our rams."
Mr Humbert said the bigger crowd this year came from across Victoria, but there were also producers from NSW and South Australia making their way to the Loddon Valley.
The fact six of the Loddon Valley studs were Poll Merinos, while another two had a polled arm to their horned Merino operation, could also have attracted new clients to the field days, he said.
"When you talk about easy care, and even (occupational health and safety), Poll Merinos come into their own," he said.
But Mr Humbert said members like to think their sheep offered producers "the complete package of big wool cuts, plain bodies and fertility".