Season can't halt strong sheep push
By TRAVIS KING
SHEEP producers across WA cast aside a dreadful season to push 2002 ram sales past the $10 million mark for the second consecutive year.
The mark of $10.2 million set last year has been easily accounted for this year with a gross of $10.7 million set so far.
There is just one more sale to come (Grindon next Friday), and with the gross set at exactly $10,778,880, it looks as though the figure will end up close to the $10.8 million figure.
Thus far there has been 88 on-property sales and 24 multi-vendor sales held across the state and these have returned an average of $928.
This average is up $21 on last year's result, showing that the swing back into the Merino that commenced last year has sustained its momentum this year.
After a very successful ram selling season last year (the average jumped to $901 from $775 in 2000) many stud breeders increased their offerings this year to ensure clients could meet their buying requirements.
This resulted in 11,614 rams sold at auction, up from 11,324 in 2001, which was a 90pc clearance under the auctioneers hammer.
Seasonal conditions did affect wheatbelt sales, but perhaps not to the extent that many breeders expected.
Although averages dropped at the majority of sales in the wheatbelt, on the whole the decreases were quite marginal and in some cases the average rose substantially.
A burgeoning meat market and a rebounding wool market no doubt softened the blow that the season threatened to cast on wheatbelt farmers.
With young export wethers selling at $65 and wool more than double its value than at the same time last year, and a bright long term forecast for the sheep industry, farmers were prepared to invest this year and hopefully gain the benefits next year.
The top price ram of the year was Lewisdale sire "Mr Elite".
The supreme champion ram from the Williams Gateway Expo and grand champion Merino at the PIBA Katanning Sheep Show was sold for $40,000 to Auswide Merino Livestock Management at the Lewisdale on-property sale.
Highest average at an on-property sale was the $1657 posted by the Yarrum Valley stud for their 118 rams offered and sold.
Yarrum Valley also sold the top price $19,800 ram at the PIBA Katanning Ram Sale and recorded the highest average of that sale with four rams selling at $13,650.
Willemenup once again made the trip to Dubbo to represent WA in the PIBA-Wesfarmers Landmark supreme ram of the year award and for the second year in a row bought the award back to the west.