THIS year's on-property Willandra bull sale was nothing short of electric, after a large crowd dug deep to secure premium bulls and ensure the Cowcher family recorded their best result.
The positivity rustling through the crowd was felt from the very beginning and continued throughout the entire catalogue of 50 Simmental and Red Angus bulls offered by Charles, Beryl, Peter and Jen Cowcher.
It was up to seasoned Landmark auctioneer John Wirth to guide proceedings, but the excellent line-up of 50 bulls saw 41 of them practically sell themselves for an average of $5762.
Not only was it the Cowcher's highest ever average, it was their highest grossing sale at $236,250, largely aided by strong interest and competition on the 35 Simmental bulls, 30 of which sold to average a mighty $6017.
Even though the higher prices were a welcome result, it was the exceptional yarding of well-bred bulls that impressed the most, particularly the second Simmental bull which was widely acknowledged to be the stand-out.
Willandra Jerry had been circled in most catalogues and when the bidding kicked off at $6000 buyers jumped at the chance to place their bid.
Once it surpassed the $10,000 mark, most of the crowd became spectators to a confident battle between two remaining buyers which culminated in Brad and Sylvia Patterson, Bullock Hills Simmentals, Katanning, securing the bull with a final bid of $15,500, a new auction record for the stud.
The Patterson's purchased Willandra Jerry in partnership with Tom Baker, Woonallee Simmentals, Millicent, South Australia, as both breeders clearly had an eye for quality and recognised Jerry's huge potential.
Mr Patterson said Jerry was the finest bull in the Willandra catalogue.
"He comes from a phenomenal breeding background and was the stand-out bull for us," Mr Patterson said.
"He has a very good structure and excellent maternal traits which we would expect to flow through to his daughters.
"This type of bull is well suited to the breeding objectives of our own stud and we are keen to use him over our breeding nucleus."
While the two studs are still working out the finer details of the shared arrangement, Mr Patterson said they agreed to collect semen as soon as possible and both aim to use the sire as a standing bull.
Sired by Willandra Commando and out of Willandra Olive E147, the 878 kilogram Jerry showed great weight for age at each milestone, with EBVs of +0.2 birthweight and +28, +37 and +38 for its 200, 400 and 600-day weights.
Other favourable EBVs included +8 for milk, +2.5 EMA, +0.3 in the rib and a retail beef yield of +1.0.
The rest of the Simmental line-up sold with similar fervour, with the price only dropping below $5000 for the last two bulls sold.
The remaining 29 bulls were divided between 19 buyers, each keen to secure their share of the latest Willandra genetics, including two buyers who paid the equal second top price of $8500.
Audrey and Sam Weightman, Topweight Grazing, Margaret River, were the first to pay $8500 for Willandra Jamaica, a low birthweight bull that was +10 milk and +28, +39, +44 for its 200, 400 and 600-day weights.
It was the Weightmans' only purchase at the sale and was soon followed by PW & RJ McKean, Coolup, who also paid $8500 for Willandra Julian, a 20-month-old bull with traditional Simmental colouring.
Taking out the volume buyer title was regular supporter Welldon Beef, Williams, which purchased eight Simmental bulls for a top of $5500, averaging $5286.
Others paying top money included FJ & M Foster & Sons, Cowaramup, who bought Willandra Jackson for $8250, while JB & H Wringe, Kirup, got in early to secure Willandra Jonah for $7500, finishing with a second sire for $4500.
Long-time buyers PP & B Smith, Busselton, purchased two Simmental bulls for $6750 and $6250, as did G & TJ Ross, Denmark, who secured two sires at $5750 and $5250.
After the Simmental's successful run, the Red Angus offering found its niche among the crowd, clearing 11 of the 15 bulls offered for an average of $5068.
Ten buyers shared the 11 bulls between them, with the only buyer to purchase two bulls also claiming the top price title for the section.
Returning top price buyers Robbie and Ted Johnston, Preston Downs, Esperance, proved they were willing to pay for quality, hitting the $8500 peak when they placed the successful bid for Willandra Joker.
Despite the name, Joker was a seriously impressive sire and caught the attention of the father and son duo for its even muscle coverage and handy set of figures.
"He is nice and soft and not too big, so we will be able to use him over the heifers," Robbie Johnston said.
"We've bought bulls in the past by the same sire and have been really happy with how the calves turned out."
Sired by Willandra Cain PCSC1 and out of Willandra Cherry C51 PCSC51, Joker presented with EBVs of +3.4 birthweight, +23, +36 and +52 for its 200, 400 and 600-day weights and +11 for milk.
The Johnstons secured the next bull, Willandra Jackhammer, for $6250.
Other buyers of Red Angus genetics included L Sharpe & Son, Denmark, who paid $7000 to purchase Willandra Joseph (AI), while McMahon Family Trust, Kojonup, purchased the first Red Angus sire to be offered for $6500.
Landmark Williams agent Ben Kealy said it was a superb result for the Cowchers, and for buyers looking for top quality Simmental and Red Angus genetics.
"The family put up a very even line of bulls and the quality was outstanding," Mr Kealy said.
"This year, the line-up was the strongest it has been for a long time and many loyal buyers were rewarded."