ROCKING up to the Derella Downs and Pyramid Polls ram sale at Cascade, it could have been mistaken for a good old-fashioned shearing shed party going on.
With musician Andrew Winton getting toes tapping and Mondo Meats' Prince of Flesh Vince Garreffa carving up three meaty hoggets to get stomach's rumbling, it was up to Landmark Brindley and Gale auctioneer Neil Brindley to get the hands waving when it came to auction time.
With an extensive selection of 200 Merino and Poll Merino rams to choose from, Scott and Sue Pickering worked hard to ensure there was a ram to suit every buyers' needs at their second on-property sale.
More than 30 buyers, including six new clients from Merredin, Northam, Wagin, Dumbleyung and local areas, made sure there was no shortage of competition on the 166 rams that sold for an average of $1264 and a $209,750 gross.
The party was with the Pyramid Polls after Roger Nankivell, Ridge-E-Didge, Condingup, fired the first shot to secure the first Poll Merino ram for the sale's top price of $5250, which was a new record price for the Pickering family across both its studs.
Competing against a number of other buyers, Mr Nankivell's one and only purchase at the sale was a definitive decision to secure excellent all-rounder genetics for his nucleus Merino flock.
"I was looking for a dual purpose sheep with productive wool," Mr Nankivell said.
"He's an easy-care ram with the best body structure for both meat and wool."
By using the ram's genetics over his nucleus ewes, Mr Nankivell was hoping to introduce similar figures such as 18.6 micron, 2.9 SD, 15.6 CV and a 99.5 per cent comfort factor into his homebred rams.
Its carcase traits were all above the average of the 2013 sale team, with 3.30 YWT, 0.57 YFAT, 1.35 in the eye muscle, but it was the 10.70 Yearling Clean Fleece Weight (YCFW) that sealed the deal for Mr Nankivell.
The Pyramid Polls dominated the pens, with 110 of the 143 offered selling to gross $128,950 and average $1172.
The top price for a Derella Downs Merino didn't eventuate until the 110th pen when regular top price buyer Rod Taylor, Epasco Farms, Condingup, once again put his hand up to secure the $3500 ram.
Even though the Merino rams were scattered throughout the line-up, they still sold to excellent competition with only one of the 57 sires being passed in and achieving a $1443 average.
Mr Taylor said he had noticed the burly ram right away as he filled the pen from end to end, boasting figures of 20.6 micron, 3.0 SD, 14.6 CV and an impressive yearling weight of 5.38.
"He's one of the biggest rams in the shed," Mr Taylor said.
"His frame size marries in very nicely with a wool type that suits our micron range."
The Merino ram will join the other three purchased by Mr Taylor at the sale as part of the Epasco Farms' sire battery of 630 rams that will service around 15,000 Merino ewes.
The sires had been selected by Mr Taylor in order to breed their own rams with an excellent body structure and frame from a nucleus flock of 800.
With the increased number of rams available, buyers were able to enter the market at their preferred level and there was a large proportion of buyers that assembled sizable teams for their breeding programs.
One of those who wasn't shy about purchasing rams was Simon Schlink, Dorglen, Mount Howick, who purchased a whopping 19 rams to top at $2000 and average $1000.
They were a mixture of Merino and Poll Merino sires and all were built with the dual-purpose of producing excellent wool and meat traits.
Owen Grahame, Mallee Farms, drove from Lake King and made sure he was well-equipped for the upcoming breeding season after purchasing 17 Poll Merino rams.
Mr Grahame paid a top of $2500 and averaged $1059 to assemble his substantial team of sire power.
Tim and Mark Compagnoni, Newleigh, Munglinup, also held a strong presence throughout the sale, picking up 16 Merino and Poll Merino sires for an average of $919 and topping at $2000 twice.
Operating from the beginning through to purchasing the very last ram on offer for $1000 to finish the sale on a high, the couple were return buyers and regularly featured in the volume buyer list.
It's a similar story to Brad and Vanessa Whiting, BT Whiting & Co, Munglinup, who took home another swag of sires, the majority of which were Merinos, paying a top of $2200 and averaging $1633 for their 12 rams.
Two buyers with similar trading names racked up the same number of rams, one of which was Joe and Mary Cummings, together with Karl Witt trading as Young River Unit Trust, Cascade, who purchased 11 rams averaging $1009 and peaking at $1800.
Meanwhile Matt Hill, Young Hill Farms, Beaumont, also secured 11 sires for which he consistently paid over the $1000 mark to average $1500 and top at $2000.
Fang Pty Ltd put together a team of eight excellent Merinos and one Poll Merino ram for a $1167 average while Dajan Park paid good prices for four rams, peaking at $3100.
Landmak Brindley and Gale auctioneer Neil Brindley, Esperance, said the sale was red hot and it was pleasing to see the rewards for the effort and investment the Pickering family have made.
"That shed was full of Merino and Poll Merino rams that were exactly what everyone is looking for," Mr Brindley said.
"They are a great example of today's Merino."