FARMERS in the Kojonup district proved they were the big winners in the season stakes when they turned out an absolute feast of prime-condition quality Merino ewes at the Elders Katanning-Kojonup circuit sheep sale.
While most were classed-out young ewes a single genuine draft of maidens carrying big February jackets at Kojonup set the day's $74 top price.
Local vendor Gordon Adams was relinquishing a property lease and put up 517 Peppin blood ewes that were bought by Elders Mt Barker representative Jai Newman on behalf of PC & MJ Wishart, Bremer Bay.
A second draft of the same ewes fetched $53 and was knocked down to Elders Cranbrook.
For most buyers skin length was of little concern, seeking instead the condition and frame for a future as prime lamb mothers.
The sale's $71.50 second top price came for 120 September shorn maidens from Neil Jackson, Sunny Valley stud, Kojonup, and sold to Lindsay Smith, Torbay, who was still tossing up whether to join them to Merino or terminal breed sires.
The Jackson family's corresponding line last year made $61, indicative of a general $6-10 lift in values over the past year.
The third top price for white tag ewes was achieved by annual vendors Rod and Treovr Norrish, Angenup stud, Kojonup.
Their big line of 705 spring shorn maiden was offered on a half or the lot basis with half going to Ross Skinner, Mt Barker, for $70 and the rest re-offered and sold for $61.50 to Kim Stothard, Mt Barker. Both lines were destined for prime lamb breeding operations.
Agents carried a wealth of orders and Elders Cranbrook representative Ian McPartland was particularly busy.
He bought six lines at Kojonup for several different clients but all wanted their ewes for prime lamb production.
On his shopping list were all three outstanding drafts from Beeac Estate, Tunney.
They included the day's $50 top price for 446 November shorn 5.5yo yellow tag ewes; 110 6.6yo ewes sold for $40; and $431 4.5yo ewes that he bought on behalf of the Fares-owned Bella Vista property at Cranbrook.
Another noteworthy white tag price was $65.50 achieved by annual vendor DL & M Marshall, Wilga, for 119 October shorn Westerdale blood ewes and paid by Pardee Grazing, Kendenup.
The Kojonup sale finished with four pens comprising 20 2000-drop Suffolk rams offered by Gordon Adams and bought by Elders Katanning representative Chris French on behalf of Katanning farmer James Tognella for between $160 and $210 each.
Sale auctioneer Ray Norman said the result for the 4900 ewes offered was equal to values achieved at other recent sales.
"The season was the telling difference," he said.
At Katanning, Elders branch manager and auctioneer Mark Mahney found the going sticky in more ways than one.
Apart from the extreme humidity from thunderstorms the previous day the offering was more mixed in type and condition.
He said it was obvious that buyers wanted quality but the surprise of the day came with the strong demand for wether lambs.
The 7100-head offering was made up mainly of maiden and mature ewes and wether lambs and included two vendors who consigned annual lines from east of Esperance.
The Katanning leg peaked at $72 with 222 September shorn Craigmore Pastoral Co 1.5yo ewes from Katanning selling on their reputation.
Buyer David Hallett, Boyup Brook, was not sure whether his father David had bought them in a previous year but he came looking for the esteemed annual line offered by the Harris family.
The second top price at Katanning was $62 for 149 maidens with July skins account Chris and Eric Patterson, Woolkabin stud, Katanning. They were bought by Elders Mt Barker.
Their 123 massive-frame 2.5yo sisters with the same bulky jackets made $60.50 and sold to L Kealey, Newdegate.
However, much of the yarding was trucked in from eastern areas and reflected not only drought conditions but one line had received an unseasonal 60-milllimetre soaking that detracted from their presentation.
The 425 bare-shorn Eastville Park blood 4.5yo ewes consigned by Ron Boulton, Lake Grace, still managed to show their quality and sold for $49 again to Robbie Williams, Elders Mt Barker.
Another noteworthy draft of mature ewes from CD & VK Joyce, Kukerin, sold for $57 to T McMahon, Mt Barker. The line comprised 177 bare-shorn Collinsville Belmont Park blood 3.5yo ewes.
The eight lines of wether lambs were bought by agents on behalf of clients wanting to stock stubbles.
Values ranged from $38.50 to $48.50 regardless whether they were shorn or unshorn.
Independent livestock buyer Dick Kerr paid the $48.50 top on behalf of EJ Pascoe, Albany, for 201 bare-shorn but sappy Trehaven blood lambs offered by C & Webb, Cuballing.
Two lines of white tag wethers in store condition fetched up to $54 for 174 offered by Alan and Supawan McLean, Valencia Grazing Co, who were quitting their entire flock after leasing their Lake Camm property.
The sheep had Avoca breeding and a September shearing and were bought by Westcourt, Kojonup.