The foundations of the Merrylea herd were laid in 1966 when James’ grandfather, Alister McKerchar, established the Heatherleigh herd with cows from Maungahina and Bushy Downs, and the very good bull Bushy Downs N14. Further cows were added from Sheanlarich, Waiau and Wai-Iti. In 1978 Eoin started the Merrylea herd with Heatherleigh and Maungahina females. The first polled bull Kirkstyle Tarzan was purchased in 1980 and polled cows purchased from Braxton, Highland, Freelance, Blarich and Vementry over the years. 1984 Merrylea Diplomat was Champion Bull at the National Hereford Sale – now AgInnovation – and purchased by Maungahina Stud.
Merrylea continues to rank among New Zealand’s leading herds, gaining Reserve Champion South Island Super Sire 2009, 2010 and 2011, with 2011’s entry, Merrylea 1467, sold for $10,000 to Lake Station and Martin Family studs.
Bulls used in recent years include:
- Craigmore Knighthood
- Grassmere Ricardo
- Okawa Bourke
- Merrylea 785
- Monymusk Absolute – purchased for $13,000
- Merrylea 1034
- Te Puna Lenny – purchased at Beef Expo for $12,500
- Merrylea 1134
- Capethorne 0815 – 2010 South Island Super Sire Champion
- as well as yearling home-bred sires used over our heifers