A BIG crowd and a small offering were a potent mix for fine and superfine Merino breeders at the Kojonup ram sale where prices hit a $4800 top last week.
The sale also demonstrated that the swing towards finer micron had not ended with the recent fine wool price crash but has been enduring with many buyers confident that fine wool is still the future direction for the industry.
Buyers came from non-traditional fine wool areas such as Narembeen, Kukerin, Mullewa and Watheroo to support agents Elders and Primaries offering from the three vendors.
It was Misty Hills stud, owned by Russell and Heather Meaton in their second year of public selling that clinched the top price with its first Poll, a ram measuring 14.1 microns with a 2.8 SD, 20.2 CV and 0.05 prickle factor in current fleece. The buyer was Peter Smith, Gairdner.
Mr Smith said his own flock was already "reasonably fine" but the new sire was considerably finer than anything he had been breeding. Apart from an exceptional set of fleece measurements the ram also complemented his selection for low worm egg count in his breeding criteria.
There were no special plans for joining the ram but it would be naturally mated with some of the 1000 ewes in a nucleus flock that make up the total flock of 3000 breeding ewes the family runs.
The price was by no means the only highlight of the smaller than usual Kojonup sale.
Misty Hills opened the selling with two pens of 25 plus one 1994 to 1999-drop stud Merino ewes and competition sent prices to $170 paid by Indinup, Katanning.
Buyer Alan Wilson initiated a fine wool breeding program last year was planning to flush some of the ewes.
Laurie and Narelle Della Vedova, Duranillin, paid $160 for a second pen of the same description ewes. Laurie said they had been working towards starting a fine wool stud for the past few years and the ewes would be a continuation of their efforts.
They also paid $1800 for a Misty Hills ram.
The Meaton family also scored the $3000 top price for a Merino ram paid by Primaries wool auctioneer Matt Pederson on behalf of Mick Catalano, Boyup Brook, who has been the stud's most prominent buyer in the past two seasons.
He paid $1800 and $1100 for other rams.
Misty Hills sold other high price rams for $2200 to Greg Cochrane, Duranillin; $2000 to W Zaddow, Kojonup; $1500 to Curtis Imberti, Kojonup; $1500 to Palmyre Farming Trust, Kojonup; $1500 to CN Hill, Gnowangerup; and $1450 to AR Brown & Co Tamblleup.
Of the four rams that failed to meet susbstantial vendor reserves three sold privately after the auction.
Mr Meaton was particularly pleased with the level of support considering recent wool prices.
It was the most rams offered by the stud and followed a successful sale at Dinninup the previous week.
He said they were working towards holding an on-property sale and was pleased that multi-vendor sale had attracted a good number of lookers.
Shalimar stud, owned by Neville Chittleborough, Mt Barker, capped off a successful return to ram selling with a $1050 top for10 rams offered.
The buyer was Breezy Peaks stud, Darkan, owned by Kevin King who bought a 4-tooth ram at Katanning ram sale and wanted a second worker to start a new fine wool family within the stud.
Elders Kojonup paid up to $1000 for one of four rams bought on behalf of an undisclosed local commercial wool producer to give Shalimar a $628 average.
The six superfine rams offered by The Grange stud at Egerton included two full-wool 4-tooths.
Merino consultant Bruce Cameron conveyed bids from Bruce Clealand calling from Kangaroo Island, South Australia, to win both at $2000 and $1350.
Mr Clealand is a relatively new commercial breeder and had been a buyer at the stud's main on-property auction earlier in the year.
Established client KDM, Mullewa, paid $1100 and $1000 for other high price The Grange rams to give the stud a $1125 average and total clearance.