Shearing

It's been a busy five years for George Millington, learning how to run a merino stud in some of South Australia's prime sheep country.

In 2010 the former Adelaide business owner purchased Cappeedee Station at Hallett in the Mid North of the state with very little experience breeding or selling sheep.

A year later he packed up and moved there with his family.

 

Now he's preparing to take on a bigger challenge, running the famous Collinsville studs and station.

"I have a passion for breeding livestock," Mr Millington says.

"I think the opportunity to buy what is an iconic South Australian business, or Australian business for that matter, in Collinsville is just a fantastic opportunity.

"When [the owners] put the station on the market, knowing they didn't have succession plans, I approached them and said, 'were they interested in selling the stud at the same time', and they were."

Mr Millington says he plans on using his business acumen to bring the Collinsville brand back to its 'former glory'.

The sale of Collinsville follows 19 years of ownership by Paddy and Helen Handbury, who bought the stud empire after it went into receivership in 1991, helping ensure its survival.

The 59,000 hectare station is located north east of Burra, but the Handbury family had been running its merino and poll merino sheep studs at Booborowie.

Now the studs are moving to a new home at Cappeedee.

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Mr Millington says a leap of faith into the industry has been met by encouragement by the long-term players.

"Unlike some of the other industries I've been involved in, everyone's actually very keen to help you out and tell you as much as they can," he said.

"And I think the industry as a whole is keen to see young families coming back.

"I hope this can be the start of something, I think the future's pretty bright for agriculture."

The next chapter of Mr Millington's merino career is certainly just beginning.

He plans to resume Collinsville's on-farm ram sales early next year and potentially reveal the details of the stud's Australian Sheep Breeding Values.

But to sell the Collinsville merinos, Mr Millington's Cappeedee station needs to be certified MN3 which assures his buyers his sheep are free from Ovine Johnes Disease.

That means getting rid of the 7,000 sheep he currently owns.

"We've actually been testing our sheep for a little while for that OJD status, so we're half way down that track," he said.

"But I have to sell all the sheep, all their progeny, all the rams - we've got to get everything shorn and classed up and in line so we can sell them.

"Then I'll have to pay to agist the [Collinsville] stock at Booborowie for another four months before we can bring them up here."

But he says it's worth it.

"It's a once in a life-time opportunity to try and grab it," Mr Millington says.

"And to bring a stud back here and have Collinsville still based in South Australia I think it's fantastic."

Current stud manager Tim Dalla and station manager Tony Connell will stay on at Collinsville.

 

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