PRICES hit a high of $1700 at last week's Sunny Valley Merino and Poll Merino ram sale at Williams, as new and old buyers chased the quality sappy, white woolled rams on offer from the stud.
Despite the sale only having a small buying gallery, when the numbers were crunched all the key indicators - clearance, gross and average - had risen on last year, ensuring a solid result for Sunny Valley principals Wes and Briana Lavender.
The stud cleared 64 of the 89 rams offered at a rate of 72 per cent and an average of $1061, up one percentage point and $30 respectively, while the gross rose by $7050.
The clearance was improved even further post-sale when a number of passed in rams were quickly sold.
In last year's sale, the Lavenders sold 59 rams from 83 offered at an average of $1031.
Elders auctioneer Don Morgan said the sale started strongly and what sold, sold well.
"Overall it was a similar sale to last year in terms of the clearance rate and average but the positive thing was we sold a few more rams compared to last year which lifted the gross," Mr Morgan said.
"It was pleasing to see a couple of new buyers operating and this added strength to the bidding and helped with the clearance rate, given a couple of buyers were missing from last year.
"Once again the quality and presentation throughout the offering was very good.
"Overall it was a very good line-up of nice, white, sappy wools."
With a quality line-up of rams on offer, buyers could select with confidence right through the catalogue which meant several rams made between $1300 and the $1700 top price.
It didn't take long for the sale's $1700 top price to be set, when Mr Morgan stood over an upstanding Merino sire in lot two.
After taking an opening bid of $1200, bids flew in.
First time buyer Cranston Pty Ltd farm manager Geoff Hillman, Dwarda, and Elders Narrogin agent Paul Keppel were left standing and secured the ram for the Dwarda operation at $1700.
Mr Keppel said they liked the ram for its balance, wool quality and figures.
"He is a well-balanced ram, with a good, rich, stylish wool," Mr Keppel said.
"Not only does his quality of wool impress but we were also impressed with his wool cut."
The long-bodied, stylish, white woolled ram weighed in at 101.5 kilograms and had September wool figures of 19.7 micron, 2.7 SD, 13.5 CV and 100pc comfort factor, while it had a fleece weight of 6.28kg and greasy fleece weight percentage of 118pc at shearing in May.
It had the ASBVs to match with figures of 4.2 YWT, -0.1 YFAT, -0.3 YEMD, 15.9 YCFW, -1.0 YFD and a MP+ index of 141.
Mr Hillman and Mr Keppel were not just after the top-priced ram in the sale, they continued to work their way through the catalogue and purchased another nine Merino sires to finish with an average of $1250 across their 10 and three Polls at an average of $1300 to be the volume buyers in the sale.
They were pushed all the way by Elders stud stock representative Kevin Broad, who was bidding for a local buyer.
Mr Broad secured seven Merinos to a top of $1600 and an average of $1214 and four Polls to $1400 (2) and an average of $1200 for the operation.
He paid $1600 for a 110kg ram with September wool figures of 20.9 micron, 3.4 SD, 16.4 CV and 99.3pc CF in addition to ASBVs of 4.4 YWT, -0.2 YFAT, -0.2 YEMD, 14.0 YCFW, -0.7 YFD and a MP+ index of 136.
Return buyers Kevin and Laurel Lavender, Moojatting Springs, Williams, bid on many of the top rams and finished with four Merino sires at an average of $1475.
They paid to a top of $1600 for a 100kg sire which measured 18.2 micron, 3.1 SD and 100pc CF in the wool in September and had a MP+ index of 136.
The Lavenders, who like the nice, bright wools along with the frame size Sunny Valley offers, will mate 1400 ewes to Merinos and 600 Merino ewes to Suffolk this year.
After buying from Sunny Valley for the first time last year Gary Cowcher, GB & AT Cowcher, Williams, returned to bid up strongly.
Mr Cowcher purchased three Merinos and three Polls at a $1000 average.
Longtime Sunny Valley client Frank Carter, FJ Carter, Woodanilling, was also chasing numbers and finished with a ute load of eight Merinos to a top of $1500 and average of $850.
Return buyer Hay River Grazing, Mt Barker, averaged $800 across a team of five Merinos and paid $600 for two of the five Brookdale-bred Polls offered.
The stud's Poll Merino offering topped at $1600 twice.
New buyer Roemarie Enterprises, Bowelling, took home the first Poll sire to hit $1600 which was the third polled ram offered.
The 111.5kg ram had September wool figures of 20.1 micron, 2.9 SD, 14.6 CV and 99.9pc CF and ASBVs of 3.0 YWT, 0.0 YFAT, 0.7 YEMD, 6.1 YCFW, -1.9 YFD and a MP+ index of 130.
The second Poll to make $1600 was knocked down to another new buyer KD Power Pastoral Co, Darkan.
It paid $1600 for the 100kg sire with September wool figures of 20.0 micron, 2.8 SD, 14.1 CV and 99.9pc CF and ASBV of 2.3 YWT, -0.4 YFAT, -0.2 YEMD, 7.4 YCFW, -1.5 YFD and a MP+ index of 129.
The Darkan operation also purchased a further four Polls to finish with a team of five at an average of $1020.