IN a subdued beef market, to say the Willandra Simmental and Red Angus bull sale was a ripper would be an understatement.
There was no doubt the large list of regular, volume clients and the good contingent of South West buyers were there to support the Cowcher family as they hosted their 25th annual on-property sale at Williams with another outstanding quality catalogue of sires.
The 36 Simmentals and 17 Red Angus bulls offered certainly endorsed the family's breeding objectives in producing bulls for the commercial industry that delivered excellent structure, early growth and superior carcase traits.
It was clear that this year's sale team was arguably the best when all but one Simmental bull sold under the Landmark hammer to a healthy $4743 average and the sale's $12,500 top price, while 11 out of the 17 Red Angus offered, sold for an average of $4341 and reached a $6750 height.
After the auction Landmark stud stock auctioneer John Wirth was presented with a gift from the Cowcher family for auctioning their annual sale for the last 25 years.
Mr Wirth said he was humbled.
"The Cowchers are great people to work with and throughout my time their bulls have just got better and better," Mr Wirth said.
"Today there was a tremendous number of repeat and volume buyers in attendance which was a true testament to the quality of bulls which were on offer.
"It was also pleasing to see a good contingent of new buyers from the South West which took home some great sires.
"All in all it was an extremely solid sale despite the industry slump."
It was evident that the striking Simmental youngster in lot 20 was circled in everyone's catalogue when the bidding started at $5000 and quickly rose.
Willandra Gomez G41, which was highly sought-after for its poll traits caught the eye of many potential buyers but in the end it was a battle between two Eastern States buyers on the end of Landmark staff phones.
Willing to go that bit further was Tom and Lizzy Baker, Woonallee Simmental stud, Furner, South Australia, when they gave Landmark stud stock manager Leon Giglia phone instructions to secure the bull at all costs and in doing so paid the day's top of $12,500.
The soft muscle, well-balanced bull weighed in at 880kg with a 43cm scrotal circumference and was sired by Topweight Director and out of Willandra Diana Z26.
Not only appealing on the eye, Gomez G41 also had the arithmetic to match with EBVs of +2.0 for birthweight, +20, +32 and +42 for 200, 400 and 600-day weights, +9 for milk, +0.3 EMA and +23 for carcase weight.
Mr Baker said they visited WA and saw the strapping, April 2011-drop bull around Christmas time and knew then he ideally suited their operation.
"He is a polled, moderate framed, easy fleshing and very structurally correct," Mr Baker said.
"With great figures he is the complete package and will be used over a portion of our 250 stud females this season."
A few years ago the Bakers purchased another son out of the same Willandra dam and were impressed with its progeny and it was for this reason they came back to buy another.
The $8000 second top price in the sale was again part of the Simmental offering and was achieved when Willandra Gloucester G128 entered and bids flew in thick and fast before the 890kg bull was knocked down to brothers Max and Neville Foster, FK & M Foster & Sons, Cowaramup.
The June 2011-drop bull was sired by the stud's super sire Willandra Commando which has stamped progeny with explosive growth, amazing thickness and very easy-doing ability.
Gloucester G128 expressed an average birthweight of +3.5, measured +36, +55 and +63 for 200, 400 and 600-day weights and had an impressive EMA of +3.4 and carcase weight of +38.
Max Foster said it was the first time they had purchased Simmentals from the Cowchers and bought Gloucester G128 for his weight for age, depth, conformation and great figures which best suited the domestic vealer market.
The Foster brothers run 110 mainly first-cross Angus females and will join the bull to 45 head to breed calves that will be sold direct to Woolworths at eight to 10 months of age.
By using a Simmental bull they hope to achieve better weights in their calves.
Paying top dollar for a poll Simmental was Jim and Paul Tuckey, JVE Tuckey, Pinjarra, who liked what they saw in Willandra Gladiator G1 and snapped up the 962kg sire for $7250.
Sired by Topweight Director, the long, well-grown bull had EBVs of +4.1 for birthweight and measured +23, +41 and +48 for 200, 400 and 600-day weights.
Landmark Manjimup Brett Chatley had his hands full securing bulls left, right and centre for local clients and during the sale bought to a top of $6500 for a Willandra Commando son on behalf of G & K Nicolaou & Son, Yanmah.
The Nicolaous also took home a Simmental bull at $6250, while PMC Bevan, Como and GH & KL & DA Williams, Denmark, weren't leaving empty handed and secured lot 28 Willandra Galactic G62 and lot 40 Willandra Gravity G25 respectively for $6250.
Having been bidding on the majority of the top-priced bulls, N & M Terrigno & Sons, Manjimup, finally saw the hammer fall their way when they bought a deep, soft Simmental in lot 48 for $6000.
Volume buyer on the Simmentals was Gordon Attwell, Welldon Beef, Williams, when he took home five soft-muscled sires to a $3650 average.
Despite the clearance of the Red Angus bulls being slightly down compared to their red and white coated counterparts, the Cowcher family still achieved a solid top price of $6750 and more importantly saw their genetics fly east.
Willandra General G31 caught Tullatoola Red Angus and Simmental stud manager David Hobbs eye when he first saw his photo on the Red Angus website and this soon made him realise he would have to make the trek across from Molong, NSW, to see the bull in the flesh.
"I really liked his balance and thickness," Mr Hobbs said.
"When the auctioneer made the opening call I knew his thick profile and top figures would suit my needs."
The 924kg bull which was sired by Trevone Park Trend Setter and out of Willandra Fortune C21 had EBVs of +5.4 for birthweight, +32, +53 and +77 for 200, 400 and 600-day weights, +16 for milk, +2.0 for EMA and +0.4 for IMF.
General G31 will be used as a cover bull over 220 stud females after AI.
Mr Hobbs said he was an outcross sire and looked forward to infusing his genetics into the herd.
"It was great that I was able to come over and support Red Angus vice-president Peter Cowcher and his family as they have been breeding good, functional cattle for some time," Mr Hobbs said.
Losing bidder to Mr Hobbs was John Cranston, Kingslane Red Angus stud, Benger.
Five thousand dollars seemed to be a popular price to pay for Willandra Red Angus bulls with repeat buyer Ted Johnston, Preston Downs Farming, Esperance, securing one at this price.
Weighing in at 848kg, lot 1 Willadra Guardian G49 was by Jutland Danny Boy and had figures of +1.6 for birthweight, +26, +41 and +58 for 200, 400 and 600-day weights, +10 for milk and +1.5 for EMA.
Having come a long way, Mr Johnston also secured another Red Angus bull on the day for $3000.
Keen to purchase Willandra reds sired by Trevone Park Trend Setter at the $5000 price tag were local and return client Gillett Brothers, Williams and Graeme Smith, GJ Smith, Albany.
The brothers took a shining to an April 2011-drop bull Willandra Gershwin G32, while Mr Smith snapped up the 876kg sire, Willandra Galveston G59.