EVERYONE was well aware of the gloom that surrounds sheep in general but buyers' faith in the long-term future of the wool industry sparked an intense atmosphere at WA's major stud sale, the 2008 Rabobank Katanning ram sale.
A small catalogue of 30 rams, now the norm in the post-world conference Merino era, went under the hammer and the number of stud buyers who sought new genetics on-the-hoof rather than in canister form buoyed the sale's future prospects.
The $8250 top price ram might have come for one of the last sheep in the offering but the sale posted highlights throughout.
While prices didn't reach last year's $10,000 high and the $3870 average was also down compared to 2007, the values achieved opened the market to buyers who were previously reticent to make a large investment in a single sire.
This year the sale was slotted into the midst of Katanning Sheep Show and the new programming ensured a sizeable audience was there to enhance the selling atmosphere.
While a couple of studs quietly marked individual milestones the sale set one record of note.
It was the first time Poll rams outnumbered Merinos - 18 versus 12 - and although the numbers were not large it was indicative of a wider industry trend.
Closer networking between stud men in recent years, particularly emanating from the Bendigo camaraderie, also gave buyers' greater confidence to trade more freely in rams with proven bloodlines from well-known sires.
Rowland and Rohan Sprigg's East Strathglen stud, Tambellup, typified the illustrious breeding backgrounds sought by buyers when Clinton, Rick and Kurt Wise, Wililoo stud, Katanning, paid the $8250 top price for a short wool two-tooth ram by East Strathglen 55 the ram that had been part of the stud's 2007 national pair.
ES55 was out of a ewe called The Queen and by Charinga Junior 12 one of the most influential and prominent bloodlines in the catalogue.
The young ram tested 20.2 microns with a 3.1 standard deviation and his 99.7 per cent comfort factor epitomised the high level of wool quality not only in the East Strathglen team, but across the entire offering.