THE Diamond Tree Angus bull sale at Manjimup last week matched the red hot cattle market when a strong contingent of old and new buyers competed strongly on the quality offering and pushed prices to record highs including a new record price of $15,000.
The line-up of bulls offered by stud principals Kim and Lex Gandy, showed plenty of potential and a wide range of traits to suit any beef operation.
On the genetics side of the equation, there were plenty of new bloodlines in combination with tried and tested ones from which buyers could choose.
The new bloodlines included SAV 707 Rito 9969, Aryvale Bartel E7, Dunoon Evident E614, Connealy Forward and Hoover Dam, and these all attracted strong support from the 80 registered buyers.
Even before the first bull entered the ring, it was evident the sale was going to be strong as the list of buyers outnumbered the bulls on offer.
Not only did the stud set the new $15,000 auction record, but by the time the auctioneering tag team of Landmark's John Wirth and Elders' Nathan King had knocked down the last bull, all 59 offered had been cleared under the hammer for a record sale average of $6958 and a record sale gross of $410,500, making it the stud's best ever sale.
The stud's previous best sale was in 2013, when it averaged $6284 and grossed $326,750 for 52 bulls offered and sold.
In comparison, last year it offered 57 bulls and sold 54 for an average of $5486, a gross of $296,250 and a top of $10,000.
This meant the average lifted $1472 and the gross was up more than $100,000.
Mr Wirth and Mr King agreed it was a terrific sale and a brilliant result for the Gandy family.
Mr Wirth said it was a "bloody" ripper sale, which was extremely strong and solid throughout.
"The presentation of the bulls was terrific and buyers responded accordingly in their bidding," Mr Wirth said.
"There was great support from the industry with buyer registrations significantly outnumbering the bulls on offer, which meant it was always going to be a strong sale.
"It was pleasing to see a big percentage of repeat buyers purchasing which indicates the bulls are performing in the paddock for Diamond Tree clients.
"There were also a handful of new clients operating which added to competition.
"While the average was significantly up on last year, there were still opportunities for buyers to purchase bulls in the $3500 to $4500 range."
Mr King said the quality of the bulls was very impressive and they sold accordingly.
"The new bloodlines introduced by the stud are certainly doing the job and buyers could see this and bid up strongly," Mr King said.
Diamond Tree stud principal Kim Gandy was over the moon and said the result was well above his expectations given the results of previous sales this season.
"We didn't have a lot of pre-sale inquiry but the inquiries we did have were good ones and were either for multiple bulls or the top bulls," Mr Gandy said.
"It was good to see our long-term clients back bidding up strongly against a handful of new clients.
"One of the reasons for the result I think was changing our breeding aims a couple of years ago.
"We sat down and decided to breed for what the clients wanted and not what we thought was the ideal bull, and this has given us a better genetic selection and a wider variety of type to offer.
"People looked at the catalogue prior to the sale and saw there was something for everyone, so they knew they could come with confidence and find the type of bull they were looking for."
With such an even catalogue, it was always going to be a difficult to pick out the top bull and this was the case with six bulls selling for $10,000 or more and another 10 selling for between $8000 and $10,000.
While the top end was extremely strong, buyers could still start bulls at the upset price of $3000 and purchase bulls in the $3500 to $5000 range.
In the end it was a long, deep, well-muscled bull, Diamond Tree Evident J9, in lot seven, which appeared to be marked in everyone's catalogue, and bids flew in thick and fast after Mr Wirth took the opening bid at $8000.
After some quick back and forth between the grandstands and the auctioneering team, the 1050kg, black ball of meat was knocked down to return buyers David and Martin Milne, DJ & M & MD Milne, Parmango Farms, Condingup.
The upstanding, growthy sire, which was by Dunoon Evident E614 and out of Diamond Tree Front Runner G72, had a birthweight of 33 kilograms, a frame score of 6.6 and a scrotal circumference of 49 centimetres.
Along with oozing plenty of eye appeal, the February 2013-drop sire had the arithmetic to match with EBVs of +53, + 96 and +127 for 200, 400 and 600-day weights, +3.1 scrotal size, +70 carcase weight, +9.4 eye muscle area and +1.8 retail beef yield placing it the breed's top five per cent for these traits, and index values of +$118 for Angus breeding, +$111 for domestic, +$121 for heavy grain and +$117 for heavy grass.
The Milnes, who have been buying at Diamond Tree for eight years were delighted to secure Evident J9 as they had been keeping a close eye on it over the past few months.
"We believe he was the standout bull and ticks all the boxes for us," Mr Milne said.
"He has a beautiful spring of rib, a great carcase and good growth and carcase figures including a very high EMA.
"His indexes are very good.
"He just has everything we were looking for."
The Milnes, who turn their calves off direct to lotfeeders at seven months (about 350kg), will use the bull in their 300-head Angus breeding herd, to breed replacement females.
The thick, muscly 1038kg Diamond Tree Bartel J22, in lot 18 also caught buyers' attention.
Mr Wirth took an opening bid of $10,000 on Bartel J22 and in a matter of seconds it was knocked down at the $13,500 second top price to the Slade family, Glenridge Park, Mt Barker.
Bartel J22 was a son of Aryvale Bartel E7 and had EBVs of +4.1 birthweight, +46, +82 and +109 for 200, 400 and 600-day weights, +63 carcase weight, +6.2 EMA and +2.2 IMF.
Buyer Andrew Slade said Bartel J22 was a good fit for their operation.
"We were looking for a bull with some size and growth and this bull ticks those boxes," Mr Slade said
"He has a low birthweight, good calving ease and was structurally very good, which was important.
"His temperament is very good."
The bull will be used over cows from the Slade's Sussex stud to breed Angus-Sussex bulls for use in their 700-head Angus-Sussex commercial breeding herd.
The Slades, who have been buying from Diamond Tree for 10 years, target the domestic retail market and sell the majority of their calves direct to Harvey Beef out of their own feedlot at 12-14 months (450kg liveweight) after they have been on feed for 100 days.
After missing out on the top-priced bull, regular Diamond Tree buyers the Phillips family, WD & IM Phillips & Son, Manjimup, put the disappointment behind them and secured Diamond Tree Rito J87 in lot nine for the third top price of $12,500.
The 988kg, 6.2 frame score, deep and long-bodied sire was by SAV 707 Rito 9969 and had EBVs of +5.5 for birthweight, +46, +89 and +118 for 200, 400 and 600-day weight, +16 milk, +63 carcase weight, +1.4 rump fat and +1.0 for IMF.
Lyndsay Phillips said they inspected the bulls in the paddock a week before the sale and they picked Rito J87 out along with a few others including the top-priced bull.
"He presents himself very well, has good structure and a good even weight," Ms Phillips said.
"He has high growth figures and a high birthweight, which we were looking for."
Rito J87, which will be a new bloodline to the operation's herd, will be used over a select group of cows to breed bulls for the operation's main breeding herd, which comprises 700 mature aged cows and 150 heifers that are mated annually.
The Phillips family also purchased an 870kg Dunoon Evident E614 son, Diamond Tree Evident J60, for $6000.
The Hortin family, FV Hortin & Sons, Albany, were strong early bidders, securing three bulls at an average of $10,000.
The operation paid $10,500 for a 962kg SAV 707 Rito 9969 son, Diamond Tree Rito J159.
Rito J159 had growth EBVs of +48, +93 and +118 for 200, 400 and 600-day weights, which ranked it in the top 10pc of the breed for these traits.
The Hortins also bid to double figures on a second sire when they had the final bid at $10,000 on the 954kg Diamond Tree Evident J78.
Evident J78 was by Dunoon Evident E614 and was in the top 1pc of the breed for retail beef yield and the top 5pc for eye muscle area and scrotal size.
The family rounded out its purchases when it secured at $9500 a 910kg Aryvale Bartel E7 son, Diamond Tree Bartel J72, which was in the top 5pc of the breed for EMA and retail beef yield.
Rounding out the buyers to purchase in the double figure bracket was Joe Davies, JP & J Davies, Albany, who secured the 972kg Diamond Tree Rito J156 in one quick $10,000 bid to blow the rest of the competition out of the water.
Rito J156 was by SAV 707 Rito 9969 and was in the top 1pc of the breed for 400 and 600-day weights and top 5pc for 200-day weight and carcase weight.
Mr Davies also bought the 952kg Diamond Tree Old Post J260, which was in the breed's top 5pc for 200 and 400-day weights and scrotal size, in one bid at $8000 and the 852kg Diamond Tree Hoover Dam J142 at $6750.
The volume buyer, with a team of four sires, was first timer Barry Panizza, BJ Panizza Family Trust, Albany.
Mr Panizza bid up early to secure his first preferences paying to a top of $8500 and an average of $6875.
He paid $8500 for the second bull offered, Diamond Tree Rito J67, which weighed in at 960kg and was in the top 5pc of the breed for 400-day weight and top 10pc for 200 and 600-day weights and carcase weight.
Mr Panizza, who has used Charolais bulls over his 380-head Angus breeding herd, said he was looking for Angus sires as he has decided to change his mating program and mate some of the herd to Angus bulls.
"I was chasing bulls with a high birthweight and good conformation," he said.
An undisclosed buyer bought three bulls at a strong average under Landmark Breeding Services.
This buyer averaged $8333 across a team of three and paid to a high of $9000 for a 926kg Aryvale Bartell E7 son, which showed good weight for age.
Landmark Mt Barker agent Charlie Staite was active for his own cattle operation, trading as C & G Staite.
Mr Staite purchased three sires to a high of $7000 twice and an average of $6917.
Six multiple buyers all secured two bulls each: Rayview Park, Albany ($7750 average); G & N Wilkinson, Badgingarra ($7375); Mayfield Park, Manjimup ($7125); RG & JM Newbold, Napier ($6500); WA College of Agriculture, Harvey ($5875) and RF & E Eatts & Son, Manjimup ($4500).
A further 29 buyers secured a single sire paying between $3500 and $8750.