Lack of demand clouds sale

Kate PollardCountryman

Wellard Rural Exports was the only live exporter buying at last Friday's WALSA June Special sale in Katanning, paying the sale top price of $120.50 for a line of one-year-old wethers.

The sale was completely different to last year's event, where bumper crowds watched exporters dig deep to pay a top of $158 in a yarding of more than 19,000 sheep.

The lack of demand from exporters and uncertainly on Friday was evident with just 7356 sheep yarded by Landmark and Elders agents, averaging $101.01/head across the yarding.

The sale was over within an hour and only a small crowd turned out to see how the market performed.

If it was not for Wellard filling orders for a boat leaving next Saturday, buying 2663 head, and Landmark York agent Jim Millar buying 2016 head for PG & AM Boyle - prices could have come back further.

But it was a sale that offered graziers a prime opportunity to boost their numbers.

It was a similar story at the Primaries and Westcoast Livestock June sale, held a week earlier. Almost 11,000 sheep went under the hammer, with the top price of $128/head down on last year's price of $168.50 and the average back by $28 to $97/head.

Prices from WALSA's sale were similar to those quoted by National Livestock Reporting Service at Katanning's trade sale two days earlier - medium and heavy drafts of live export wethers sold for $82 to $95 with full wools to $120/head.

Friday's sale highlighted that demand for export sheep is, and will continue to be, affected by Government restrictions.

Wellard livestock general manager Garry Robinson, who attended both sales, said compliance was an issue but exporters were working hard to keep the market open.

At the same time, he said farmers needed to continue to build their flocks and invest in genetics.

"In spite of the softness of the market, red meat production still represents a good long-term production opportunity," Mr Robinson said.

Auctioneers Don Morgan, from Elders, and Mark Warren, from Landmark, said overall the sale was good and above expectations, especially ewes. They estimated prices were up $5 to $10 a head on the special sale the week before.

Mr Warren said the sale result showed just how important the live export industry was.

Wellard buyer Chris French said the sheep purchased would be shorn at the La Bergerie before being exported to markets in the Middle East.

_Landmark catalogue _

The first pen of one-year-old wethers in the Landmark catalogue made a top of $120/head - 368 Collinsville blood one-year-old December-shorn wethers from GC & SM Mitchell, of Ravensthorpe.

Wellard purchased the line, along with the second and third top lines.

Castlak Farms, from Dumbleyung, made $118/head for 221 Golden Hill blood one-year-old October-shorn wethers and Bellakin Grazing, of Katanning, offered 367 Pooginook blood one-year-old September-shorn wethers, which made $110/head.

The biggest line in the offering, from Dunbar Farms in Katanning, was 485 Wallinar blood October-shorn one-year-old wethers that sold for $103/head to Landmark York agent Jim Millar, buying on behalf of PG & AM Boyle.

Mr Millar also purchased four lines of wethers in the Landmark catalogue for the Boyles, as well as one line of ewes.

The three-year-old March-shorn Karingal blood ewes were from KW & JA Ball, of Dumbleyung, and made $70/head.

The top pen of ewes in Landmark's catalogue were from Charlie Peak Farms, of Esperance. The line of 184 one-year-old May-shorn Collinsville blood ewes made $94/head and were purchased by Landmark Perth on behalf of Sunshine Pastoral Company.

Other buyers in the catalogue included Chris Medcalf on behalf of Neville Parker and Co, who purchased 406 Bundaleer one-year-old Glenlea Dohne wethers, March-shorn, for $85/head.

_Elders catalogue _

First-time June special vendor Graham Ball, of Wagin, said he would be selling at next year's sale, after his line of 419 one-year-old Strath Hadden Dohne October-shorn wethers made the sale top of $120.50/head.

For the past six years, Mr Ball has been phasing out Merinos for Dohnes, citing ease of care and increased fertility with up to 30 per cent more lambs.

Mr Ball said the hard work was all due to his daughter, Michelle, and son-in-law, Tony Carew-Reid.

Purchaser Wellard, also paid $115/head for 483 two-year-old Keetlen February-shorn wethers from Corackerup Farming in Gnowangerup.

Minutes later, Wellard paid $113.50/head for a line of 228 October-shorn one-year-old wethers from WP & DM Shiner, of Pingrup.

Grazier support on wethers included Westcourt Trust, of Kojonup, which paid $90/head for 415 one-year-old wethers from NC Flugge and Co, and Clark Skinner on behalf of the Horrocks brothers, of Cranbrook, who paid $88/head for 145 one-year-old wethers from Wayneflete Grazing Company.

The top line of one-year-old ewes from Kuibrook Farms, of West River, sold for $110.50/head and were bought by Landmark York.

Elders Esperance purchased two lines of ewes for Esperance clients and Glen Paddon purchased two lines offered by Kukerin farmers CV & VK Joyce for $86.50/head and $75/head.

WALSA June Special Sale * <table border="1"> <tbody> <tr> <td align="left">AGENTS </td> <td>OFFERED </td> <td>SOLD </td> <td>TOP PRICE </td> <td>AVERAGE </td> </tr> <tr> <td>Landmark </td> <td>4017 </td> <td>4017 </td> <td>$120 </td> <td>$98.80 </td> </tr> <tr> <td>Elders </td> <td>3339 </td> <td>3339 </td> <td>$120.50 </td> <td>$103.22 </td> </tr> </tbody> </table>

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