$2100 peak at Shirlee Downs

Rebecca TurnerThe West Australian

Increased confidence in prime lamb production was evident among buyers at the 21st annual Shirlee Downs and Dongadilling ram sale last week.

Overall, the sale resulted in an increase in clearance rates in the Poll Dorset flock ram and Prime SAMM ram categories compared with last year's sale,with both categories also recording a rise in average price.

A total of 215 rams were offered, including 11 Poll Dorset stud rams, 42 Prime SAMM rams and 162 Poll Dorset flock rams. Both the Prime SAMM and Poll Dorset flock rams achieved a total clearance, while seven of the 11 Poll Dorset stud rams sold under the hammer.

This year, a Prime SAMM ram sold for the $2100 top price, while all seven Poll Dorset stud rams sold for equal top prices of $1500.

Elders auctioneer Preston Clarke said Shirlee Downs had presented an outstanding catalogue of Poll Dorset rams suited to commercial buyers.

"As with many sales this season, people were selective, but across the board the sale went very smoothly," Mr Clarke said.

"There was bidding right across the sale ring and the rams offered were very good examples of the Poll Dorset breed."

The sale started with an offering of 11 Poll Dorset stud rams, of which the first seven in the catalogue will be shown by Shirlee Downs and Dongadilling studs at the IGA Perth Royal Show before being delivered to their new owners. In total, the seven stud rams sold under the hammer for equal top prices of $1500.

Volume buyers of four of the top-priced stud rams were WE and G Hosking of Northampton, who plan to use the rams in their own stud operation Woodgrove.

"We have purchased rams from Shirlee Downs every year for more than 10 years," Ted Hosking said.

Gail Hosking said they selected rams based on good structure and conformation, and while all the rams had productive Australian Sheep Breeding Values, she said the ASBVs were only part of their decision-making process.

In the Prime SAMM offering, all 42 rams sold under the hammer for a gross value of $43,500 and an average of $1036, an increase of $317 on last year's average.

This year's top price Prime SAMM ram was bought by Sandown SAMMs for $2100, a rise of $900 on last year's top price in the Prime SAMM offering. The ram exhibited a Carcase Plus index of 137.30, Lamb 2020 index of 105.07, an EMD of 1.6, 0.8 FatMM, BWWT of 0.12, WWT of 2.6 and PWWT of 4.5.

Buyer Graham Sutherland said the ram's figures showed a great combination of growth and weaning weight as well as muscle.

It was the first Prime SAMM ram Mr Sutherland had bought from Shirlee Downs, and it was selected for its structure and strong ASBVs.

Mr Sutherland said in addition to Shirlee Downs' performance in the show ring, the stud's success in producing lambs for WAMMCO had grabbed his attention.

"I have a lot of faith in the breed. Prime SAMMs are a great maternal breed. They have a better wool type to suit maternal breeding and produce very successful first-cross ewes," he said.

The two equal-second top-price Prime SAMM rams sold for $1500 each to GW and E Anderson of Quairading.

Mr Anderson is a neighbour of the Squires and has been buying rams from Shirlee Downs stud since it began.

"They are very good sheep and we are getting good results from our past purchases," he said.

In the Poll Dorset flock rams category, 162 rams were offered for a total clearance at a gross value of $149,100 and average of $920.

Compared with last year's result, the Poll Dorset flock ram sale resulted in an increase in gross value, top price and average, with the latter increasing by $205.

This year's top-price Poll Dorset flock ram sold for $1500, an increase of $450 on last year. It was the first ram offered in the selection and was bought by KJ and BI Couper. The ram had a Carcase Plus index of 161.6, EMD of 0.3, -0.7FATMM, BWWT of 0.40, WWT of 7.0 and PWWT of 11.3.

The second top-price Poll Dorset flock ram was bought by SE and SA Browne of Bindoon for $1400.

The ram had a Carcase Plus index of 178.9, EMD of 0.8, -0,8 FATMM, BWWT of 0.47, WWT 8.3 and PWWT of 13.4.

The Browne family bought a total of five rams for a gross value of $5500 and an average of $1100.

Dale Browne said they bought the second top-priced ram for its good figures.

Mr Browne said the family had previously bought Poll Dorset rams from Shirlee Downs, attending the past five sales.

He said the rams bought in this year's sale would be used in their commercial operation, which produces composite fat lambs that are sold direct to WAMMCO.

"We mate Poll Dorset rams to Border Leicester ewes. The feedback we are getting from WAMMCO shows that what we are doing is right," Mr Browne said.

Repeat volume buyer for the Poll Dorset stud ram section were Hillgate Nominees of York, purchasing a total of 17 rams for a gross value of $13,950 and an average of $820.

Buyer Graeme Davies said they had been buying rams from Shirlee Downs for 20 years, with the rams being used over Merino ewes to produce prime lambs.

He said they currently ran about 3500 ewes, with the new rams purchased to be used over these ewes.

There were a few new buyers at this year's sale, including Michael Lucchesi of Kulin, who purchased a total of 13 Poll Dorset flock rams for a gross value of $11,350 and an average of $873.

"I like the look of the rams (purchased) and they were all well presented," Mr Lucchesi said. "We run a 70 per cent cropping, 30 per cent sheep operation.

"We run 3000 ewes, which have been mated to SAMM and Dorper rams in the past."

Mr Lucchesi said the rams bought at this year's sale would be put to Merino ewes, which had been bought in. "Resulting lambs are then sold to butchers, feedlots and shippers," he said.

Shirlee Downs co-principal Chris Squires said the sale had attracted the best crowd he had seen in a long time. He said while sales of Poll Dorset stud rams were a bit flat, he was very happy with sale results of both Poll Dorset flock rams and Prime SAMM rams.

"This is the first time that all the Prime SAMM rams have sold," Mr Squires said.

"The prices of both the Prime SAMM rams and Poll Dorset flock rams were up.

"Lamb prices are pretty good at the moment, which I think has translated to more confidence in prime lamb production and better prices for rams."

Mr Squires said he was encouraged to see new buyers, however, several regular buyers were absent. He said confidence in the sheep industry was up and people were starting to see that cropping was not everything when it came to running a profitable operation.

Shirlee Downs and Dongadilling Ram Sale *

_Under the hammer results _ Breed Offered Sold Top Price Average Poll Dorset stud rams 11 7 $1500 $1500 Poll Dorset flock rams 162 162 $1500 $920 Prime SAMM 42 42 $2100 $1036

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