WHILE a major Merino seedstock producer and studmaster, Matthew Coddington is fast becoming an industry leader through his close association with much of the Merino genetics research and technology being gathered and formulated during the past couple of decades.
Breeding selection is in his blood (possibly genetically) which comes from a die cast many generations back.
Matthew Coddington is the fifth generation studmaster of Roseville Park Merino stud established in 1938 at “Roseville”, Kingsvale, moved to “Woodlands”, Narromine, in 1952 and then based at “Glenwood”, Dubbo, since 1983.
Since taking over the stud from his parents Graham and Sally in 2005, Matthew Coddington has advanced the Roseville Park name to the highest dimensions.
This is exemplified by the stud supplying 700 rams annually and selling 3500 doses of semen to 700 stud and commercial operations across Australia and overseas.
A culmination of this success was the sale of the highest-priced ram at an on-property auction last year at $22,000.
Roseville Park’s 2012 sales resulted in 210 rams cleared at auction for an average of $2541.
For the past eight consecutive years Roseville Park has been the number one selling stud at the annual Rabobank Dubbo National Merino Show and Sale in August.
Mr Coddington said the family had always been able to position themselves within the market.
“We’d follow the trends without extremely changing our type or using lots of different bloodlines,” he said.
“We concentrate on using bloodlines from within the Roseville Park flock.”
Operating the stud with wife Cherie and five children – themselves shining at home and within the show ring as they help out – Mr Coddington has found what he calls a “real niche” within the marketplace by producing big-framed 18.5-micron sheep that are water resistant.
“This micron has enabled us to sell into Tablelands areas and pastoral plains without clients sacrificing wool cut and in many cases, increasing lambing percentages with some flocks gaining up to 150 per cent of lambs,” he said. In overseas countries like Uruguay, Roseville Park influences 70pc of the Merino genetics in the 1000- millimetre rainfall country.
Roseville Park utilises a lot of performance recording and measurement technologies. “There are some stud breeders out there that make all sorts of bold statements without backing them up with factual information,” Mr Coddington said.
“We have been involved in sire evaluation programs for more than 20 years, Sheep Genetics since its inception and now Sheep Genomics, by collecting DNA samples to predict breeding values for all of our sires. “We also fleece weigh, micron test and body weigh all of our sheep and have been muscle and fat scanning our rams for the past 10 years.”
Pregnancy scanning information is also collected to identify twin bearing maiden ewes and dry ewes are always culled out to increase fertility. Mr Coddington said he spent $25 per ram on measurement which helped to take the guesswork out of ram selection for his clients.
The stud runs one of the biggest AI programs each year with up to 2800 ewes being joined through AI. “With the genomics information collected on young rams a lot of the back-up joining to AI is carried out by 30 rams at seven months of age which weigh up to 55 kilograms at four months,” he said.
“This really helps speed up genetic gain and also breeds sheep with early sexual maturity which in turn increases fertility.” Client successes during March/April this year included first placing in the Marlborough Flock Ewe Competition in New Zealand, the inaugural Tasmanian Flock Ewe Competition and the Bathurst Merino Association’s Ewe Hogget Competition.
Second place was also gained by a client in the Boorowa Flock Ewe Hogget Competition. Mr Coddington conducts a free client sheep classing and consultation service working right across Australia. “I find that if I can work with my ram buying clients this way, I can make huge gains within their flocks in a very short time,” he said.
“Because we run a family operated business it has to be profitable and so do our sheep, so I find sometimes a lot of my work with clients is in their kitchen at night with a calculator, looking at ways of preparing and marketing their wool clip and ram breeding options, and general animal nutrition and husbandry to maximise their flock’s genetic potential.
“I enjoy sharing this knowledge and we now undertake a lot of client workshops and talking to schools, university and industry groups passing on our knowledge.” This has also led him to become an industry leader, asked to advise on sheep genetics to industry such as Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Sheep CRC.
Mr Coddington is the current chairman of the NSW Stud Merino Breeders’ Association’s Scientific Liaison Committee and a director of a newly formed group called Merino Link (started out of Temora Research Station) looking at sheep research and development and also includes a youth scholarship.
These roles have exposed him to a wide network of industry experts on genetics, research and technology, gaining information that can be used within the Roseville Park stud to adopt new breeding techniques earlier than most other Merino breeders in the industry.