$2900 top for Billandri sale
Using the world's foremost sheep database, Merino Select, Billandri Poll Merino stud offered and sold 200 rams, all by sires ranked in the top 2 per cent, at last week's Landmark sale in Kendenup.
The total clearance was testament to the work studmaster Bill Sandilands and his son Geoff, and family, have been doing using Australian Sheep Breeding Values to monitor changes in the Billandri flock to assure performance traits are moving in the right direction.
Mr Sandilands said results from the stud's 2014-drop rams included 17 in the top 1 per cent and 158 in the top 5 per cent of Merino Select and so on.
"We use ASBVs as a tool and also monitor for worm resistance at Billandri," he said.
"We emphasise increased fleece weight, lower skin wrinkle and higher worm resistance in our ram sale offerings."
The Sandilands' breeding principles work well for regular repeat buyers, including Eric Rae of Greenhill Estate, Broomehill.
"All of the rams in the sale are highly productive, so we can select at will," he said.
However, the sale also attracted new buyers yet to discover the benefits of Billandri sheep.
Eneabba Superfine breeder David Mills, who trades as DP & W Mills, attended his first sale this year and secured the $2900 top-priced ram after also bidding on the $2700 second top-priced, bought by Pingelly breeder and new buyer, Garry Page.
Mr Mills said the lure of infusing a larger frame type into his Superfine nucleus to breed flock rams brought him to Kendenup, even if it meant a seven-hour drive each way.
The sale's highly valued 16.7- micron ram came with a long list of other measurements, including a yield of 73.6 per cent, stable length of 106mm, body weight of 78.5kg, fat depth of 4mm and associated ASBV data. Mr Mills also bought another low 16.6-micron ram with a body weight of 84.5kg for $1500.
Mr Page was pleased with his ram choice, saying it had long stable and figures to match.
Also in on the top-priced rams, regular 20-year buyer Erica Ayers, of Cape View Grazing, Esperance, secured a $2100 ram.
Mrs Ayers said the good-woolled ram came with excellent ASBV figures and low worm egg count.
"We will use the ram in our 100-ewe nucleus to breed flock rams for our 3000-head commercial breeding flock," she said.
Bidding on top dual-purpose index rams were regular buyers John Sexton and his son Ash, of Kojonup.
Ash said their selection criteria were for larger frame size and heavy cutting types to add value to their sheep and wool program.
"We are also concentrating on low wrinkle and worm resistance and believe this is helping to increase our flock's fertility, resulting in higher lamb markings," he said.
The Sextons secured a total of 12 rams to a top of $1600 and average price of $1283.
Elders agent Russell McKay was kept busy at the sale with client buying orders, including volume and first-time buyer Peter Sadler, of Wongan Hills, who attended the sale with his son Michael.
Mr Sadler said he selected for fleece weight, wool quality, and good structure and was working off top 5 per cent index rams because he was interested in increasing productivity. Also attending the sale was Trangie sheep researcher Tracie Bird-Gardiner, of NSW, to assist ram buyers with the newly released RamSelect APP.
"More and more Eastern States studs are switching on to using tools such as RamSelect," she said.
The Poll Merino in pen one sold to volume buyer Mark Addis for $1800, with all proceeds going to fight motor neurone disease.
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