TWO Kyrgyz Republic sheep men have spent the past three months in WA researching the way we run Merinos, and have come away more than impressed. Aibek Omurov and Talant Mambetov are in WA as part of a research tour funded by the World Bank. Under a US$16.7 million funding package to the Kyrgyz Republic, they bought 290 rams and 400 ewes from Australia last year to aid in the breeding and development of Merinos in their country. The Kyrgyz Republic was formerly part of the Soviet Union and a communist country, which did run 10m sheep, but now runs 4m. "We are changing the system from communism and it is a difficult time for farmers. They must learn to sell for themselves instead of letting the government do everything," Talant said. Talant and Aibek have looked at the Merino system in WA, concentrating on the breeding, wool production and marketing. The project includes the joining of Kyrgyz Merinos to Australian fine Merinos, in an endevour to develop breeding of soft wool with a high comfort factor, good staple length and low micron. The Republic breeds Merinos to satisfy both wool and meat markets. Talant and Aibek have been visiting and staying at studs around WA, looking at the different techniques each stud used. The two were also at WA Merino Week but missed out on the ram sale at the end of the week due to them leaving for South Australia for a month before heading back to Kyrgyz.