FOLLOWING a week of uncertainty in the WA sheep industry, there was certainly no hesitation from commercial breeders at the first ram sale of the season.
Farmers from all around the district turned up to Phil and Robyn Jones’ Bruce Rock property for their annual Belka Valley Poll Merino ram sale, ensuring every ram was snapped up and bulked out their breeding requirements.
Elders stud stock representative and auctioneer Nathan King said despite some recent hurdles in the sheep industry, it was business as usual for WA sheep breeders who were keen to capture the latest and greatest genetics available from Belka Valley.
“We are very pleased with the total clearance today, particularly for the first sale of the year,” Mr King said.
“There are still some hurdles facing the industry, so for buyers to turn up and pay good values for their ram requirements, it shows plenty of faith in the current wool and meat markets.”
All 69 of the 2017-drop Belka Valley rams sold under the hammer for a gross of $93,600, with buyers paying an average price of $1357 to secure their share.
Prices hovered around the top end of the scale for the first 21 shed prepared rams, averaging $2062, and it was nearing the end of the first run where the $3800 top price ram was found.
Competition picked up the pace once the ninth ram was offered, with plenty of bidders recognising the breeding potential of the large, plain-bodied sire before them.
It was regular top price buyers Nick and Pam Spark,
D & MA Spark & Co, Bonnie Rock, who chased the sire the hardest, securing it for the $3800 price tag.
The ram’s wool measurements included 18.3 micron, 2.8 SD, 15.3 CV and a comfort factor of 99.9 per cent.
No surprise then that the ram’s well-nourished, white, bright wool was one of the biggest drawcards for the Sparks’, in addition to the large, square body frame upon which it grew.
“We like the frame of Belka Valley rams and the progeny is always true to type,” Mr Spark said.
“They are very hardy sheep, we like the wool style and staple length is also very important to us.
“This ram was the complete package, with a great frame and white, well-nourished wool.”
After eight years of purchasing Belka Valley genetics, Mr Spark said he broke from his tradition of purchasing solely from the Clancy line of progeny, mixing it up with this ram descending from semen used from Manunda stud sire 23.
Before making their top price purchase, the Spark duo had already purchased two top sires for $1900 each, and then waited until lot 44 and 58 to round out their ute-load, paying $2000 and $800 respectively.
Another early bird swooping in on the early offering of rams was regular sale supporter DM & AL Major, Muntadgin, who purchased a total of three rams for a top of $3400.
It was the second top price paid at the sale and achieved by the last of the 21 shed prepared rams, a Claypans blood ram with 19.9 micron and 99.6pc comfort factor.
Mr Major paid $2400 and $1600 for his other two purchases.
Elders Merredin territory sales manager Graeme Teasdale was busy throughout the entire Belka Valley catalogue, taking out the volume buyer title on behalf of CB Flintham & Co, Merredin, with a total of 16 rams.
Mr Teasdale topped at $1600 twice and paid an average of $1100 to secure the sizeable sire haul for the Flinthams.
Other attendees in the market to bulk buy included Westcoast Wool & Livestock Kulin and Hyden agent Lincon Gangell, who purchased six sires for a top of $1400 and capping the other five rams at $1000.
EB & EC Auld, Merredin, were keen to secure some rams with large frames and excellent wool genetics from the stud, taking home five sires for a top of $3000 and an average of $1760.
Another two Merredin buyers were busy at the sale, with MJ & JE Giles purchasing four sires and paying a top of $1500 twice, while Edmundsbury Farms, took home four rams for a top of $1900, paying $1800 and then $1500 on two occasions to reach quota.
Two Muntadgin buyers who made their two purchases count included PR Wanless, who paid $2900 and $2400 for his pair, and TR Major signed cheques for $2600 and $3200 to seal the deal on his two top ram picks.