Harold Keller, father of stud principals Jed and Craig, has always been passionate about breeding Merinos and passed this enthusiasm on to his sons. When the two sons completed school, they found the time to fulfill their own passion and started breeding rams for commercial purposes. Harold’s original commercial flock was of Collinsville bloodlines.
When Jed and Craig started breeding their own rams in 1985, they acquired the services of independent sheep classer Charles O’Connor. During those early years, with the guidance of O’Connor, the Kellers bought sires from studs that included Collinsville, South Tauta, Old Ashrose, and Oriental Park stock.
After attending an SRS workshop in 2000, and coinciding with O’Connor’s retirement, the Kellers decided to change their breeding direction. Bill Walker of Classings Pty Ltd, Murray Bridge, was enlisted, leading to the sourcing of sires from studs in the Marnoo district of Victoria, including Charinga, Wallaloo Park, and Gowandale.
While working on the family farm, the two brothers also worked in the wool industry as shearers and rouseabouts across a large part of the state. During this time, they built up an in-depth understanding of the many varieties of Merinos that were being bred. Combining this apprenticeship in the wool industry with their commercial backgrounds gave the brothers keen insight about what qualities make a shearable, productive Merino.
By 2007, although the Merino industry was going through a tough time, the Kellers had not lost their passion. And so, bolstered by the demand for their modern style of Merinos, combined with the ever-increasing surplus of quality rams they were breeding, they decided to register as Ramsgate Merino stud.
In 2008, Ramsgate sold rams holding private selection sales, and in 2009 held their first on-property auction offering 40 rams. Since then, Ramsgate’s clientele has steadily increased, and it now offers 70 rams at auction with private selection.
Over the last decade, Ramsgate has continued to source sires from Marnoo studs as well as several prominent studs in South Australia, such as Leahcim, Glenlea Park, Gunnallo, Ridgway Advance and Kamora Park.