IT took just short of 90 minutes for Elders auctioneer Don Morgan to tote up $347,000 worth of video auction sales for 60 lots, with a $5783 average, at the third annual Lawsons Angus WA bull sale, Jerdacuttup, last week.
Last year's sale gross of $266,000 and $5429 average for 49 bulls did seem hard to top, but stud principals Harry and Ruth Lawson did it with apparent ease last Friday, thanks to die-hard regulars and a host of first-timers.
Whether they came knowing the value of the product from past experience, chasing outcross genetics or because they'd heard of the performance of Lawsons' bloodlines in feedlot trials or mates' paddocks, the goal was the same - bottom line enhancement from genetic predictability.
And with the stud's fact-not-fiction policy of measured testing with emphasis on high feed conversion, fertility, calving ease and moderate maturity coupled with full health protocols, a three-year guarantee for structure and fertility and visual quality and temperament of the bulls, there was a lot to like about Friday's offering.
At $8250, lot one set the tone for what was to follow, but it was not until lot 28, the day's top of $9750 ($500 more than last year) was recorded.
CBH chairman Neil Wandel, Willawayup Farms, Esperance, swapped his grain cap for a beef hat to make his inaugural purchase of a Lawsons bull a notable one.
As a producer of feedlot calves, Mr Wandel had heard good reports on the feedlot and general performance of Lawsons bloodlines and came for a look.
And it was the July 2012-drop Lawsons C511 H169, by Rennylea C511, which caught his eye for its depth, cover and good figures.
At 774kg, H169 was the third heaviest bull in the catalogue (just 4kg shy of the leader) and ranked in the top one per cent of the breed for short fed domestic index (SFDI) (97) and eye muscle area (EMA) (+ 9.7) and in the top 5pc for long fed Certified Australian Angus Beef (CAAB) (136) and 400-day growth (400D) (+ 94).
"A lot of Angus have become too tall and too stretchy lacking depth, but this bull had excellent depth and muscle," Mr Wandel said.
Willawayup annually mates 450 Angus breeders and buys in another 200 to 300 lightweight calves but Mr Wandel said the good season this year had made sourcing lightweights a challenge.
Another first-time buyer to stamp a presence was Wes Graham, WJ & FJ Graham, who bought the second and third top-priced lots at $9250 and $8750 respectively.
Mr Graham outlaid $9250 for Te Mania Africa A217 son, Lawsons Africa H612, the equal top ranked SFDI bull (105) in the sale and ranked in the top 1pc of the breed for SFDI and 400D (+ 103) and in the top 5pc for CAAB (144), EMA (+ 7.9) and 600D (+ 124).
His second purchase Lawsons Novak H659, by Lawsons Novak E313, with a 44cm scrotal went one better in the figures stakes ranking in the top 1pc of the breed for SFDI (99), CAAB (148), EMA (+ 9.7), 400D (+ 100) and 600D (+ 127) and in the top 5pc for intra muscular fat (IMF) (+ 2.6).
Lawsons Angus retained semen marketing rights and a 50pc revenue sharing interest from semen sales in both the Graham bulls, as it did with a total of 19 bulls in the catalogue.
Mr Graham said he had been chasing muscle and softness for his 1700-head purebred Angus breeding herd.
"We have plenty of size in our cows and while I have used some Lawsons genetics previously, these are new bloodlines for us," he said.
From Boyup Brook, JS & EN Bagshaw, picked up where it left off last year securing two bulls, a son of Lawsons Novak E313 and a 776kg son of Rennylea C511 for $8500 apiece, while the $8250 bull in lot 1, a Te Mania Africa A217 son, went the way of Hillcrest Farm, Walpole.
Colin Thexton, Independent Rural Agents, Pemberton, who is responsible for one of the most successful vealer sales in WA, brought a contingent of his vendors and together they accounted for 18 bulls at the sale.
"We have been buying here for the last three years and the quality and performance of the progeny coming through, along with the benefit of a great selection of outcross genetics, encourages us to keep coming back," Mr Thexton said.
Other volume buyers included Bott Livestock Trust, Esperance, seven to $7250 three times, CD & DD Barrett, Esperance, four to $7500 and Jarrahlea, Boyup Brook, four to $8000 (twice).
The top price for five of six yearling bulls to sell was $4250 bid by Kojaneerup Holdings, Kojaneerup, helping the handful to a healthy $3100 average.
Mr Lawson said he was surprised by the strength of his third WA sale but thrilled with the support from large and small operators from throughout the State.
"The bulls had good figures but the season really allowed that potential to show through," he said.
"At 18 months, our bulls are younger than most when sold but we like to get them out working as early as possible, which we believe assists with longevity."
Mr Lawson said another drawcard for buyers was his operation's emphasis on fertility, the greatest driver of profit, with all 3000 of Lawsons' breeding cows stationed in WA, Victoria and Queensland mated exclusively by AI and expected to conceive in 45 days with no back-up bulls used.
He believed WA producers were well placed to capitalise in the next 10 years on what he saw as looming demand for commercial herds from China, Russia and Kazakhstan, particularly for Angus.
"WA is one of the most economic places in Australia to breed cattle as you are in a temperate zone, you have scale of production, a very professional and well managed live export industry and there is great potential for profitable mixed farming here," he said.
"My only concern is we are losing a generation of stockman in the face of cropping."
Elders auctioneer Don Morgan heaped his praise on the Lawsons Angus line-up before and after the sale saying they provided the best EBVs you'd find anywhere in Australia, coupled with outstanding muscling and quality.
"Helped by seasonal factors, the bulls were well prepared and there was a good spread of new and existing buyers which helped provide an excellent start to the company's bull-selling season," Mr Morgan said.