AS the Merino ram selling season comes to a close on the back of continued challenges, producers have reason to smile after coming through relatively unscathed.
The Merino industry got a kick start early in the year when prices hit levels many had only dreamed about at the WALSA Katanning June Special Sheep sale in June.
Live exporters at the sale opened up their cheque books and went on a buying spree, paying a record price of $156 twice for 2yo wethers.
The sale may now go down in history as the day when perhaps WA turned the corner, with sheep prices coming of age relative to today's production costs.
Given the Katanning result and the positive overall outlook for sheepmeat, it might have been a timely reminder for doubting farmers to reassess the financial value of the Merino to their operation and what they were going to do at sales this season.
Following the final Merino ram sale last week there had been a total of 8316 rams offered at auction at 87 sales around the state.
This was broken into 72 single vendor sales and 15 multi-vendor sales which saw a total of 7466 rams sold under the hammer during the season.
This compared to the 2008 season which saw 9104 rams offered and 7818 sold - in contrast last year there were 352 more rams sold from an extra 788 offered.
At single vendor sales there were 6880 rams offered, down 697 head and 6215 sold, down 331 head, while at multi-vendor sales 1436 rams were offered, down 91 head and 1251 sold, down 21 head.
This year's total calculated to a clearance rate of 90pc, which was up four points on last year's rate of 86pc. This marked the first time the clearance rate had hit 90pc since 2003.
The reduction in the number of rams offered for sale was mainly due to the cancellation of some sales, however again some breeders took a proactive approach, reducing the size of their offerings as they knew with the reduced flock numbers the requirements from buyers would not be as high as previous years.
Read full story in this week's Farm Weekly.