SOUTHEND prices headed northwards at the stud's on-property bull sale last week, recording one of its highest top prices at $9000.
Stud principal Kurt Wise was thrilled with the result, particularly the top end of the bull catalogue and said it was encouraging to see many clients returning for their Murray Grey bull requirements.
He reduced this year's offering from 38 to 32 bulls, selling 21 of them to gross $95,500, with the first 17 being sold consecutively as a result of fast-flying bids from the 26 registered buyers.
It wasn't just the $9000 top price making a large leap on other years - the entire Murray Grey bull offering averaged $4548, an increase of $576 on last year's average.
A great season in the Katanning area, complete with ample spring rains that delivered plentiful feed, meant the quiet, soft, well-grown bulls were in excellent condition on sale day.
The first six on offer were led bulls that stood by contentedly while they attracted a lot of attention before the auction got underway, with the stand-out third bull into the ring earning a tick in everyone's catalogue.
Under the hammer of Elders auctioneer Gary Preston, the exceptional bull was knocked down for the $9000 price tag after two buyers fought it out, each of them reluctant to be the one to miss out.
Eventually Andrew Marsh, AC & SJ Marsh, Kojonup, was no longer challenged and became the new owner of the 888kg Southend Hammer.
Describing the bull as an absolute beef machine, Mr Marsh was willing to go the extra mile for the extra length Hammer would inject into his 85-head Murray Grey breeding herd.
"He just has an excellent thickness right through from his shoulder to his rump," Mr Marsh said.
"Not only does he have that deep body, he is also very structurally correct.
"I've used the same bloodline before and had a lot of success, so I was very keen to buy him."
The particular bloodline he was referring to was Hammer's sire, Southend Braveheart, which became an ideal combination with dam Southend A Cleopatra, which is renowned for producing a great calf every year.
Noteworthy breeding figures for the April 2012 calf included a 41cm scrotal measurement, +4.4 BWT, +3 milk and 122 in the eye muscle.
Hammer also recorded +29, +35 and +55 for its 200, 400 and 600-day weights.
Mr Marsh will use his only bull purchase over his heifers and also some hand-picked older cows, with the aim to slowly build his cattle numbers to 110 breeders with quality genetics.
The second top-priced bull was one of the youngest in the catalogue with the stylish July 2012 drop calf, Southend Hercules, purchased by Mark Hay, Hayday Pastoral Co, East Perth, for $8500.
Showing excellent growth for age, Hercules was also sired by Braveheart and was the full brother to last year's top-priced bull.
The 808kg bull measured +5 for milk, an EMA of 118 and +23, +32 and +48 for its 200, 400 and 600-day weights.
Hercules was the only bull Mr Hay purchased at the sale, but he couldn't pass up the opportunity to buy a female package deal, purchasing a silver Murray Grey cow with a silver heifer calf at foot for $2000.
The cow was tested pregnant to the same bull that sired Hercules, Southend Braveheart.
Also paying high values was Durnbond, Walpole, which purchased two bulls named Southend Hot Shot and Southend Hunter, for $7000 and $6000 respectively.
The volume buyer of the sale was MH Collins & Co, Nyabing, who bought three bulls to a top of $5250 for the second bull in the ring.
They followed with two more, paying $3000 for the lengthy Southend Harley before finishing with Southend Hell Boy for $4000.
Getting the sale off to a flying start was CA Farmer & Co, Boddington, who made sure he was holding his bidding card up the right way to purchase the first bull for $5250.
Boyup Brook producers RP Bass and KR Pinch were chasing one of everything, starting with a powerful sire for $5500 before moving their sights onto a beautiful cow and calf unit.
Southend C-Reflection was a middle-aged cow in its prime, which had a proven breeding ability and excellent milk traits that became evident when buyers saw the well-grown silver heifer calf at foot.
The Boyup Brook farmers paid the $2400 top female price to secure the promising unit.
When it came time for the three lines of 10 heifers to enter the pen, it was John Imberti, Pallinup Contracting, Gnowangerup, who wanted to boost his female population with young genetics, snapping up all 30 of the unmated Murray Grey heifers.
Born between February and June, the heifers were eight to 12-months and Mr Imberti paid a top of $1100 for the first 10, $760 for the second line and $700 for the third to finish a successful sale.
Elders auctioneer Gary Preston said the quality of Murray Grey bulls and females continued to improve each year, with the top end of the catalogue selling well.
"There was a very good presentation of bulls and the first half sold tremendously," Mr Preston said.
"Buyers became more selective towards the end of the offering but overall it was a great result."