Volume 71: Macarthur family papers relating to wool and sheep, 1820-1936: No. 069
THE ERCILDOUNE FLOCKS
were obtained from Greece and her African colonies; that the Greeks brought the breed from Colchis and Miletus, in Asia Minor, and whether the race was originally obtained from the argali (or wild sheep) domesticated, or was an original breed of sheep cared for since the earliest times, is a question that, like the problem of the origin of the different races of man, and all other animals, cannot now be satisfactorily solved.
Spain alone long possessed the merino sheep, and this possession, the envy of other nations, was jealously guarded, so much so that the exportation of merino sheep from the country was by law made a capital offence. It was also believed that the peculiarly fine wool of the merino could not be produced in perfection elsewhere, and that its good qualities would disappear in other countries.
That this fear was ill-founded the history of the merino in Germany, and later on in Australia, amply testifies. The German wool soon eclipsed that of Spain, and at the present time the wool of Australia, and notably of the flock of which this is a short sketch, brings a far higher price in London, which is the market of the world, than that of any other country or flock.
From Spain, through Germany, came the pure race which has proved so beneficial to the wool-growers of Australasia.
It is an undoubted fact that, as in the thoroughbred horse, purity of race is the first condition necessary to insure the highest degree of excellence, but an equally important one is to have suitable pastures. With these conditions, combined with with careful selection, the race may not only be preserved in its highest state of excellence, but a progressive course of improvement may be entered upon, leading to still higher results. That this object has been obtained in the Ercildoune flock some facts which will be given here will show.
It was in the year 1848 that the pure flock, the origin of the present stud flocks, was obtained by the Messrs. Learmonth.