Breeding and showing sheep is a passion for Will Schilling and despite being only 24 years of age, he has set some ambitious goals for his Glenlee Park Border Leicester stud.
Mr Schilling said his interest in sheep came from hours spent as a child helping his late grandfather, Mervyn Schilling, who ran a self-replacing Merino flock at Glenlee in the west Wimmera.
"My grandfather just loved his stock and ever since I was a little kid I was always over at Pa's, helping in the yards, during shearing and feeding sheep with him," he said.
As a determined 13-year-old, Mr Schilling spent time shearing on the weekends and during school holidays, soon saving enough money to buy some stud sheep.
"I remembered as a kid, Dad bought some beautiful first-cross ewes and I thought it would be nice to breed Border Leicester rams to produce ewes like that," he said.
He bought five Border Leicester ewes from the Miakite stud dispersal and registered Glenlee Park in 2009.
"When I came home and told Pa I had bought some Border Leicester ewes, I don't think he was that impressed, it took him a year or two to come round, but he could see that I really enjoyed it and he supported me," he said.
Mr Schilling slowly built his numbers up, buying several more ewes and a ram from the Black Gate stud, Wycheproof; genetics were also sourced from the Coolawang stud, SA.
In 2011, at 16, he began showing his sheep, attending the Australian Sheep & Wool Show (ASWS) in Bendigo for the first time, which he said was a "big eye-opener".
Impressed with the structure and size of the Border Leicesters from well-known NSW stud, Retallack, Mr Schilling purchased 10 ewes from the stud and has continued to invest in their genetics over the years.
"My grandfather always bred big, free-growing sheep and it has worn off on my Border Leicesters, I like big sheep which stand well and are very structurally correct," he said.
A stud highlight so far has been breeding a ram which topped the Horsham Show and Sale in 2016 selling for $11,000.
Purchased by Wattle Farm, the ram was out of a Glenlee Park home-bred ewe, sired by Retallack 828/13.
"It was always my dream to breed a quality ram I could sell at and to top the sale was the proudest day of my life," he said.
"Progeny from my ram won supreme Border Leicester ram and supreme longwool interbreed group in Bendigo last year and also topped Coolawang's sale at $14,500.
"To see your genetics performing for other leading studs is very satisfying."
Now working as a livestock agent for Driscoll, McIllree & Dickinson in Horsham, Mr Schilling has recently purchased his own 120-hectare property at Gerang Gerung, currently running 80 stud ewes.
Last year Mr Schilling purchased the top-priced ram at the Jackson Farming sale for $12,000, and is looking forward to seeing his lambs on the ground in mid-July.
He sells about 30-40 rams privately in the Wimmera area and will offer several selected rams in Horsham.
Glenlee Park has also gained MN1 Ovine Johnes accreditation which Mr Schilling hopes will increase future stud sales.
Mr Schilling is busy preparing his show team of young ewes and rams for this year's ASWS.
"I love showing and getting my sheep prepared for the season, my next goal is to win a champion," he said.