AT the same time thousands of football fans were heading east, a band of Victorians were in WA plundering the Moojepin ram sale at Katanning on Friday.
And just like the great game, they didn’t get away with the big prize.
A total of 29 rams were bought by interstate buyers but the sale’s $7000 top price ram is staying put in WA at its new home with the Trotter family, Perillup Estate, near Frankland River.
Its starring role will be in a breeding nucleus that produces sires for a 5700 head commercial ewe flock.
Not unlike the Eagles, Mostyn Trotter, son Dean and grandson Jordan, waited almost until the last minute before they struck at lot 116 to get ET 171690, a July-drop syndicate bred ram.
The ram had MerinoSelect figures that put it in the top one percentile band for weaning and post weaning weight; the top 10pc for fat; the top 20pc for eye muscle depth and in the top 50pc for clean fleece weight.
Family spokesman Dean said they had bought two Moojepin rams in the past two years, following their first purchase two years previously and they had bred with great success.
“They have similar wool type to us but David (Thomspon) puts more emphasis on the genetics,” Dean said.
“He also has helped us with joinings and young ram selection.”
This year’s sale comprised 130 rams of which 125 sold for a $2118 average, up $100 on last year and stud principal David Thompson declared it a pleasing result.
The sale not only featured the Eastern States contingent but also some first-time buyers whose influence was strongly felt by the regulars.
Even though the sale posted an improved result, at no stage did it feel the 30 registered bidders were under pressure.
Landmark auctioneer Michael Altus took $250 increments throughout the catalogue, creating slow and deliberate bidding.
They also knew there was a big pen of private selection rams available to go through after the sale.
One of the most prominent buyers was repeat client David Meyer, Broomehill, who paid the $5000 second top price, as well as $4000 for another of his eight rams.
He was one of many who had praise for the Moojepin sheep, finding both good wool and carcase trait rams, enabling him to push production boundaries that also included fertility.
Kendal Ballard, who farms with his mother Rosemary and brother Rhett at Nomans Lake, had only heard about how Moojepin genetics performed but it was enough to encourage a 16-ram spending spree.
The family had run a cropping-only enterprise in the three years until 2014 before instigating a plan to run a balanced sheep and cropping program to spread risk and take advantage of good wool and lamb prices.
They had bought in various lines of Merino ewes building the breeding flock to 4500 ewes and were now wanting to develop a plain bodied type, increase lambing percentage and gain the ease-of-care for which Moojepin is renowned.
Mr Ballard paid up to $2000 but also bought a good number at the $1000 upset price.
Last year’s top price buyers Brad and Lach Patterson, Bullock Hills Pastoral, Katanning, paid $4250 and $3000 for two rams and spokesman Brad said from their experience with Moojepin sheep there were huge hidden benefits.
He said the rams were not pushed as young sheep and continued to grow after going to a new home.
There were positive carcase and growth rate differences that made it easier and more viable to finish them for the prime lamb trade.
Stephen and Michelle Start, Crowlands, Victoria, were active for the third successive year and paid $4500 and $3000 for two of three rams, but by far the most active Victorian was stock agent Mark Ferguson, who bought on behalf of the big Chinese-owned Egerton Farms, Lal Lal Estate, Buninyong, Victoria.
After buying a swag of rams last year for an expanding ewe flock, Egerton Farms bought 20 from the auction paying up to $2500.
Mr Thompson said his rams attracted eastern Australian attention because they were cheap compared with the similar type available in the east, insisting it wasn’t necessary for people to spend big money to get good results.
Boyup Brook buyers Glenkeith Family Trust, owned by David Forrester and family have been staunch Moojepin supporters and returned to buy in bulk paying $4000 and $3750 but getting four of his 11 rams for $1000 before turning his attention to the private selections to top up with another 25.
Other buyers included Rob Rex, Westendale Grazing Co, Wagin, who paid up to $3750 for the best of six; FR & P Fitzpatrick, Beverley, paid up to $3000 for the best of three; and Ian Garstone, Roundpool, Woodanilling, paid up to $3000 and bought four.
Eric Crossley, Clifden Farming Co, Woodanilling, bought 10 at prices that kept the budget intact and was one of the day’s main volume buyers.
There were also several people who came for just a single ram and were prepared to spend a sizeable sum to get what they wanted.
They included WE & KL Plusckhe, Northampton, who paid $4250; Kit Anderson, Slab Hut Grazing, Kojonup, paid $4750; Greenwood Farm, Northampton, paid $3750; and KJ & RP Page, Pingelly, paid $3000 and took only one ram.