Stud sale defies season averages
Defying the ram selling season's opening averages, Willemenup Poll Merino ram values were up $568 per head from last year on the back of a reduced offering, as confident bids excused quantity for quality.
The 134 ram line-up resulted in a complete clearance, with six Polls selling to $4000 or more.
The average price reached $1837 compared to last year, when 175 rams were offered and 158 sold to a top of $3700 and at an average price of $1269.
The Garnett family also offered 71 Curlew Creek Poll Dorset rams, with all sold to a top of $1650 and average price of $854, compared to last year when 57 sold for an average of $969.
Willemenup stud master Collyn Garnett said the reduced number of Poll Merinos offered this year was due to seasonal restraints, but future sales would be back to normal.
Free-flowing white wool on sound structure was the selection criteria for father-son buyers Chris and Adrian Squiers, of CJ Squiers & Sons, Quairading, who paid out the $4600 top-price for pen 24.
The 106kg ram, which recorded 22.7 microns, goes back to Mr J from Olinda bloodlines.
The Squiers also paid $2000 and $1900 to round up a trio of Polls to introduce to their nucleus of 180 ewes, in which to breed flock rams for a 2500-head commercial ewe breeding program.
Also looking for a suitable nucleus ewe flock sires was the Letter family, of Tambellup, who had several rams on the wishlist, securing lots 33 and 67, the latter being the $4400 second top-priced, sired from Duke Syndicate East Strathglen bloodlines.
The Letters paid $4100 for pen 33, which goes back to "Stretch" Pallinup bloodlines.
Dion Letter said he favoured the bright, broad crimping fleece of the two Polls with 21.1 and 22.1 microns, respectively.
"Finer micron is not so much the objective any more as the gap between medium and fine prices has narrowed," he said.
Adding two $4000 rams and one $2200 ram to the shopping cart, repeat buyer Jim Heal, of Heal Partners, Three Springs, said the trio of Polls would go to work in a 400-head nucleus flock to produce improved wool cut, conformation and frame.
Ravensthorpe woolgrowers Ted and Bev Hill, account EL & BM Hill, who were first-time buyers at Willemenup, paid $4000, $3000, $2200 and $1700 for four rams, including pen 10, which was signalled out by Elders auctioneer Preston Clarke as having the purest wool of the shed.
The Hills were looking for well covered, plain-bodied Polls with bright, free-growing wool similar to their herd of 3000 breeding ewes.
Mr Hill said this year would be the couple's 21st at the Perth Royal Show where they show their wool in the farmer's fleece category.
Mr Clarke said buyers including the Hills were very confident with their bids.
"Sheep producers were looking for structure, growth, cut and quality and were confident in their investment bids on the back of the recent wool spark," he said.
Local woolgrower Ian Laurie bought eight rams to a top of $3400 and average price of $2375.
A tribute was paid to long-time clients, Bob Green and his family, of Allawah Grazing, Tambellup.
Mr Garnett said Mr Green bought his first Willemenup ram in 1960 for $160.
Retired studmaster Dick Garnett said today's ram sale prices reflected much more investment scope on the part of the commercial producer.
"The pendulum has swung the other way, which has its concerns for the commercial breeder's economic stability," he said.
Volume buyer was Sheldon Kowald, of Capemount Farms, a Katanning family farm interest, who bought 19 rams for an average price of $2000.
Tambellup sheep producer Nick Lockyer, of Moree Grazing, was back at the Curlew Creek Poll Dorset sale to repeat his top-price bid from last year, this time paying $1650 for a suitable sire.
"The ram stands well, which speaks of my interest in selecting for longevity," he said.
Sired by Shirlee Downs 318/10 (SD318), the upstanding 112kg ram recorded a 7.7 weaning weight, 11.0 post-weaning weight, -1.0 PFAT, 1.4 eye muscle depth and a Carcase Plus of 176.6.
The Lockyer family will cross the ram over Merinos and plan to cross over Corriedales in the future.
"We have been breeding easy doing Corriedales for over 90 years," Mr Lockyer said.
Also repeating from last year, C & M Hill, of Gnowangerup, paid the $1600 second top-price for a SD318 sired ram, weighing 117kg, with excellent figures (8.5 WWT, 14.2 PWWT, -0.4 PFAT, 0.8 PEMD and a Carcase Plus of 180.1).
Another SD318 sired ram, weighing in at 120kg, sold to ND Herbert, of Tambellup, for $1500, with Mr Herbert also securing a Hillcroft Farms 672/11 sired ram for $1400.
Volume buyer was Glenorchy Grazing Co, which took home seven rams for an average price of $1071.
Schilling Enterprises, of Beverley, bought nine rams for an average price of $539.
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