WITH not many more opportunities left to buy young ewes this season, stock agents and sheep producers pushed prices at last Friday's Elders Kojonup Special Ewe Sale to soaring new heights.
A 40 cent per kilogram jump in the wool market the day before may have had some influence on buying habits.
But by and large it was the work of farmers looking to replace aging ewes or increase their overall flock numbers which saw a top price of $154 a head reached without much fuss.
The 6130-strong yarding of Merino, Dohne and Prime SAMM ewes earned itself an overall average of $123 a head and grossed more than three quarters of a million dollars for the Kojonup, Tunney, Dumbleyung, Moodiarrup and Broomehill vendors whose sheep filled the Kojonup saleyards.
There were 12 lines of Merinos and one line of Dohnes in the 1.5yo offering which was first to be sold by Elders auctioneer Dean Hubbard.
Reaching an average of $135 in quick two-dollar increments, the 3046 head offering sold strongly with Ross Skinner, R & RK & NR Skinner, Mt Barker, paying the sale's overall top price of $154 a head for 231 August shorn, Hyfield blood, 1.5yo Merino ewes from Giovi Agriculture's Kojonup property.
Mr Skinner has also been a regular buyer at the recent Katanning sales and has picked up more than 500 Merino ewes in the last few weeks.
Chasing anything that's cheap, he said he'd been predominantly buying young ewes but also had a great opportunity to pick up some outstanding 4.5yo ewes in recent weeks.
Joining the rest of his purchases, the top-priced line will be used as replacement ewes as well as helping to expand the Skinner family's sheep enterprise since it hasn't bred any of its own replacements for a number of years.
Primarily focused on wool and prime lamb production, Mr Skinner's operation will see the newly purchased line joined to Poll Dorset rams.
Mr Skinner's son Nathan is also returning to the farm soon and is keen to run more sheep while cutting back the cropping hectares.
For the last handful of years Mr Skinner has run about 1000 Merino ewes but wants to buy even more to replace his cast for age ewes (6-8yo) following their sale.
"Prices are too high - producers are basically losing a year's worth of production value by simply paying such high prices," Mr Skinner said.
"Sheep in general are over-valued at the moment but if you want them you have to pay for them.
"We could buy older ewes but we'd have to turn them over more quickly so there's that to consider.
"We'll continue to run a 1000 head flock this year but hope to buy more volumes next year to get the numbers up to about 1500 in the foreseeable future."
Mr Skinner purchased the Giovi Agriculture line because of the size of the animals and their ability to cut a lot of wool.
Giovi Agriculture livestock supervisor Graham McIllree, Kojonup, was on hand to see the sheep sold and was incredibly happy with the price.
Giovi Agriculture, which joins 8500 ewes to Merinos and 6500 to prime lamb sires each year, has experienced a wonderful year for sheep - the best Mr McIllree has ever seen.
"It means we've had plenty of ewes to choose from so these ones were just surplus to requirement," Mr McIllree said.
"They cut about 4kg of fleece during the August shearing period and averaged about 19 micron."
The first two lines in the sale attracted the $150 equal second top price.
Three separate bidders battled to get their hands on the first line - 219 November shorn, Multi Purpose Merino (MPM) blood, 1.5yo, genuine ewes from Glenkeith Grazing, Kojonup.
In the end A & JI Watterson, Tenterden, locked in the line which was the top draft out of 1800 ewes.
Kane Luzny, KO & JA Luzny, Lake Muir, bought the second of the two - 470 November shorn, 1.5yo, genuine F2-F3 Dohnes from Glenpadden Farms.
They too were the top draft from 1600 ewes.
The prices paid for the rest of the 1.5yo lines continued to be red hot.
The lowest price paid was $102 and that was by Tristan Mead, TW & FL Mead, Boyup Brook, for 235 October shorn, Angenup blood Merinos from JE Kelly & Co, Kojonup.
Other lines sold to GJ & SM Gray ($122), Kirup, EF & JM Rogister ($121), Albany, Elders Mingenew agent Ross Tyndale-Powell on behalf of an undisclosed buyer ($138 and $140), GS & AE Karafilis ($140), Bridgetown, Elders Bridgetown agent Brendan Mead on behalf of PR & SJ Semwell ($132), Dinninup, Glancy & Sons Trust ($123), Bridgetown, Westbourne Holdings ($130), Bridgetown and Certio Pty Ltd ($126), Busselton.
The only line of 3.5yo ewes in the sale was a 294 head dispersal line of F4 Dohnes from Capercup Pty Ltd, Moodiarrup.
The October shorn ewes sold to DM & NR Blake, Parryville, at $141.
Values continued to remain strong right throughout the sale with the 4.5yo offering also conjuring some exciting results for the Elders team and vendors alike.
Capercup's 323-strong Dohne presentation earned $118 a head from Brindley and Gale Landmark Esperance agent Peter Gale on behalf of Preston Downs, while GJ & KJ Clayton's genuine line of November shorn, MPM/SRS Merinos sold to Elders Boyup Brook agent Peter Forrest on behalf of SRJ & JC Larkin, Boyup Brook, for $99.
It was an offering of 153 October shorn, Prime SAMM ewes which achieved the $110 top price within the 5.5yo catalogue (which attracted some outstanding price outcomes for vendors).
The $110 Wibi Pastoral line was again snapped up by Elders Mingenew agent Ross Tyndale-Powell, taking his tally to four lines of sheep for the day on behalf of an undisclosed buyer.
He also purchased JR & G Schinzig & Son's 358 head offering of 5.5yo, September shorn, Strath-Haddon blood Merino ewes for $107.
GL Jessop, Kojonup, paid $101 for 5.5yo ewes, while Landmark Williams agent Peter Moore paid $106 on behalf of two undisclosed buyers.
Peter Forrest paid $100 and $106 on behalf of SRJ & JC Larkin, Boyup Brook and $106 on behalf of RW & PR Campbell, Bridgetown.
To wrap up the sale, which saw plenty of commercial ewes re-homed in the local Great Southern and South West regions, 171 mixed age, October shorn, specially selected Capercup Dohne stud ewes were also put to auction in three lots.
The first two lots were picked up by DM & NR Blake, Parryville, for $140 a head while the last pen sold to Wayne Torney, BoyaSprings Estate, for the same price.