A $3200 TOP price and an exceptionally strong demand for rams were the hallmarks of a successful East Mundalla Merino ram sale at Tarin Rock last week. The buoyant atmosphere was in stark contrast to last year when Wheatbelt farmers were realising the full extent of frost damage and had curtailed their spending. Last week, both stud and commercial breeders were buying from the 160-ram catalogue with confidence to clear 152 at auction and snap up all but one Poll Merino before the day was over. Robert, Craig and Bevan Doney, Bruluc stud, Tincurrin, paid the top price for one of the first sons offered by the stud from the Banavie Star Affair 82 sire, bought two years ago for $10,000. The sire has stamped his progeny with softness and lower micron and these characteristics were paramount in the Doney's decision to buy. The ram had an autumn test of 17.4 microns, 0.3 prickle factor, 19.8 CV and 3.4 standard deviation. Another Star Affair son sold for $1400 to Howard Ward, Harwood stud, Dumbleyung. The sale capped off a week of better than expected results as the ram selling season hit full stride. While the sale's $624 average was down $112 on last year, reflecting a general trend throughout the state, the clearance came as a pleasant surprise for Wesfarmers Dalgety auctioneer Preston Clarke, who found the bids flowed without effort from start to finish. Studmaster Philip Gooding was particularly pleased with the clearance rate, saying the attitude of woolgrowers was still positive. Repeat buyer Phil Adams, Kukerin, was the epitome of this confidence, paying up to $2000 and averaging $1420 for five rams, saying his flock had reached a standard and he had to maintain it. Similarly GJ & PH Davidson, Dumbleyung, was prepared to spend $2000 to buy a single ram and Davidson & Son, Kukerin, paid $1600 for another of the highest priced sheep. Despite the early high prices, volume buyers found rams affordable. Leon Beurteaux, Nungarin, buying on behalf of P Capito & Son, Bodallin, who has a standing annual order for 25 rams, bought at auction for the first time to keep a floor in the market. Other dominant buyers were Graham Gooding, Moulyinning, who bought 17 rams and paid up to $950. Brother Malcolm Gooding, Moulyinning, paid up to $1150 but bought only half as many. Another volume buyer was Ian Orr, Newdegate, who bought 10; GD McDonald & Co, Newdegate, bought nine and paid up to $950, and RA McDonald, Lake Biddy, bought eight rams and paid up to $900. The 30 Poll Merino rams all sold but one to return a $470 average compared with a $660 average for Merino rams. The $900 top price poll ram was bought by TR & DK Edwards, Dumbleyung.