Gnowangerup wethers top sale

Kate Matthews and Bob GarnantCountryman

A line of one-year-old wethers from Gnowangerup topped last week’s WALSA June special sale in Katanning, selling for $158 per head.

The sale offering was down 15,000 head on last year and was just under last year’s record of $159.50 for two-year-old wethers.

The sale result was met with mixed reactions from vendors — some said the effort and cost of keeping their sheep in top condition was not rewarded, nor was the value of the fleece recognised.

For the past two years, the sale has been boosted by strong demand from live exporters. However, this year, it was subdued.

There was also an unspoken element of caution in the market, following the suspension of the live cattle trade to Indonesia last week.

Although Gnowangerup sheep producer Ross O’Keefe topped the sale at $158 per head, he did not believe the price reflected the market.

“If exporters are not going to support the sale, I will not be bringing my sheep to the Katanning sale, ” Mr O’Keefe said.

The line of 1663 wethers in the Landmark catalogue was bought by Livestock Shipping Services (LSS).

Selling first this year was Elders and among the surprises was a line of ewes that sold for $147.50 per head, above the $140 top for wethers.

Vendors Tom and Faye Stewart, from Pingaring, said their line of 244 ewes had been on lick feeders since October and was purchased by Boyup Brook grazier Peter Johnston. The Stewarts run 900 Merino breeders and have used Nepowie genetics for 31 years.

The remaining six ewe lines made $85 to $135 per head, with the majority purchased by Kevin Matthews Family Trust on behalf of Victorian farmers.

In the wethers, two-year-olds made $110 to $123.50 per head with FW Fiegert purchasing the latter from GD and I Collins.

The Ditchburn family’s one-year-old F1 Afrino wethers, October shorn, made $140 and were purchased by WAMMCO.

Tansby Estate’s line of 310 one-year-old September-shorn East Strathglen wethers sold for $134 to Wellard Rural Exports.

One-year-old wethers in the Elders catalogue ranged from $78 to $140 per head, with many shorn and in store to forward condition.

On woollier lines, Elders western zone livestock and wool manager Paul Mahony said there was more value for producers to shear.

Chris Medcalf, on behalf of Kojonup grazier Neville Parker and Co, was the volume buyer of wethers.

It was notable during the Elders catalogue that there were no bids or purchases from LSS or Emanuel Exports.

In the Landmark catalogue, wethers averaged higher due to extra competition from exporters looking for shipping wethers.

Two-year-old wethers made $115 to $135 per head, while one-year-olds made $70 to $158.

The top two-year-old line, 714 September-shorn San Mateo wethers from Kojonup’s MacMahon Family Trust, was purchased by Emanuel Exports.

Woodanilling producer Wayne Shackley’s 767 one-year-old wethers made $154.40 and were also purchased by LSS.

Mr Shackley said the price needed to make up the value of the feed used and the increasing wool price.

Three lines of ewes made $105 to $110 per head and were all purchased by Kevin Matthews Family Trust.

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