WHAT a difference 12 months can make.
This time last year, the Sutherland’s annual ram sale was up against a pretty ordinary season in the northern agricultural areas.
While they still recorded a solid result given the circumstances, it did impact the clearance and values from 2016.
Fast forward 12 months and the Sutherland family is celebrating one of, if not its most compelling ram sales.
Contrasting seasons and unprecedented positivity with the sheep industry saw new and return buyers battle it out on the top line-up at Arra-dale Merinos and Sandown British breed rams to record a total clearance of the 178 ram catalogue and gross a total of $291,100, almost double the earnings of last year’s sale.
At the end of selling, the Landmark and Elders teams had cleared the catalogue to average a notable $1635 across all descriptions.
This was up $537 on the overall average compared to last year’s sale where 137 of 162 Merino and British breed rams (85 per cent) were sold to average $1098.
p Arra-dale Merino and Poll Merino
The sale’s most dramatic improvement came from the lineup of Arra-dale Merino and Poll Merino rams.
Broken down, an increased penning of 55 Poll Merino rams sold to $4200 and averaged $2242, up $1007 on last year’s average of $1235 from 40 of 45 rams sold (89pc).
The line-up of 47 Merino rams sold to $3800 and averaged $1955 to post an $825 jump from last year where 46 of 57 rams (81pc) sold to average $1130.
Return buyer Broad Farming Company, Mingenew, raised their sights on their team of seven poll rams, outlaying a healthy $2743 average and including the sale’s $4200 top price.
The top-priced ram was selected at the back end of the second run of poll rams highlighting the depth in the catalogue.
The 111kg ram was part of the first progeny to be offered by a Moorundie South sire from South Australia and displayed August wool tests of 18.89 micron, 99.59 comfort factor (CF) and 4.5kg greasy fleece weight (GFW).
Buyer Brett Broad said they had been buying Arra-dale rams for the past five years as they swung back to Merinos, away from crossbred lamb production.
He said they would mate 1100 Merino ewes next year which were run in conjunction with 100 Angus breeders and a cropping program.
“We are slowly increasing our Merino numbers on the back of sheep and wool prices,” Mr Broad said.
“And we enjoy our livestock, it’s good to be mixed farming and remaining diversified.”
Passionate sheep producer Joe Felber, AJ Felber, Badgingarra, paid the sale’s $3800 top Merino ram price for the sale team leader bred by a Woolkabin sire purchased in 2015 and top Arra-dale/Strath Haddon ewes.
The 120kg ram tested 19.6 micron, 99.9pc CF and 4.6kg GFW.
Mr Felber also paid $3400 for the Poll team leader in lot one, a 110kg Moorundie South bred ram testing 19.39 micron, 99.5pc CF and 5.1kg GFW.
He has been breeding his own rams for the past 10 to 15 years and the two new rams would join the nucleus flock.
Mr Felber said during this time he had increased his wool cut by more than 50pc and reduced the flock micron by 1.5.
“We are pretty happy with our sheep,” Mr Felber said.
“It’s a great time to be in the sheep and wool industry, I don’t think I have seen it this good.”
Mr Felber said the acquisition of another property had allowed them to build their Merino numbers back up and will give them greater numbers to choose from for their nucleus breeding program.
“With greater numbers you can cull harder and improve quality quicker,” he said.
“We are working towards ewes cutting 10kg and selecting these to breed from.”
Other higher prices paid included GF & SM Warr, Yuna, bidding to $3400 for one of two polled rams.
The 110kg Moorundie South bred ram was penned in lot 12 and tested 20.5 micron, 98.09pc CF and 4.7kg GFW.
Regular buyers C & J McDonald, Carnamah, parted with a healthy average of $2540 for five Merino rams and paid to a $3400 top for a 118kg Woolkabin bred ram, testing 19.5 micron, 100pc CF and 5.1kg GFW.
Mitch Crosby, Landmark Breeding, was kept busy filling an order for a client that resulted in nine poll rams paying from $1700 to a $3200 top price for a 110kg ram in lot two that was from an Olinda Majestic family sire and maiden ewe mating and displayed tests of 20 micron, 100pc CF and 4.8kg GFW.
Whybrow Family Trust, Badgingarra, also bid to $3200 for one of six poll rams penned later in the sale in lot 61, with tests of 20 micron, 99.7pc CF and 4.1kg GFW.
Long-time client Tony Sudlow, T & L Sudlow, Northampton, filled the trailer with another 10 rams to be the sale’s volume buyer.
Mr Sudlow bid from $800 to $2500 for 10 Merino rams.
Fellow consistent buyers at the sale, the Spencer family, Gymbowen, Perenjori, finished the sale with eight Merino rams paying from $1300 to $2700 while Finiterre Farm, also of Perenjori, collected six Merino rams to $2300.
Minnenooka grazier PR Camerer bid to $2000 for seven poll rams and Carnamah producers Trevose Farms and Keith Camac & Co picked up six rams each paying to tops of $3100 and $2700 for teams of six poll rams and five Merino rams and one poll ram respectively.
p Sandown Poll Dorset & White Suffolk
The complete clearance of 76 Sandown British rams rounded out the successful Sutherlands sale.
Broken down, 50 Poll Dorset rams sold to $1600 and an average of $970, while 26 White Suffolk rams found new homes costing up to $1500 and average of $1054.
Compared to last year the Poll Dorset average was marginally down by $32 from significantly less rams sold where all 26 rams sold to record a $1002 average.
The White Suffolk average of $1054 showed a jump of $130 compared to last year where 27 of 36 (75pc) sold to average $924.
Badgingarra producer Taylor Shiralee paid at the top of the market for three Poll Dorset rams including the sale’s $1600 top price.
The top bid went to the third ram offered, a late April 2017-drop ram with mid-August scans of 115.5kg BW, 45mm EMD and 5.1mm fat and ASBVs of 0.41 BWT, 8.6 WWT, 12.6 PWWT, -0.8 PFAT, 1.3 PEMD, 111.1 Lamb2020 and 182.9 Carcase plus.
The most prominent buyer of British breed rams was Elders Mingenew agent Ross Tyndale-Powell who collected 12 Poll Dorset and White Suffolk rams to fill a few client orders, paying to a $1300 top for a Poll Dorset ram scanning 104.5kg, 43.5mm EMD and 3.9mm fat.
Other bigger British breed accounts included the Watson family, Mondarra Farming Cco, Irwin, with nine Poll Dorset rams from $800 to $1200.
DW & KM Debruyn, Carnamah, collected eight Poll Dorset rams paying from $700 to $1000 while a Primaries Badgingarra account yielded eight Poll Dorset rams costing $700 to $800.
BA & LE Haeusler, Carnamah, added two Poll Dorsets to their three White Suffolk rams and paid from $900 to $1100 while fellow Carnamah grazier Dallow Enterprises secured four White Suffolk rams from $800 to the sale’s $1500 equal top White Suffolk price for a 95.5kg ram that scanned 41.5mm EMD and 3.9mm fat.
AM McCuish & Sons, Coomberdale, bid to a $1500 equal top price for one of three White Suffolk rams, the 110.5kg sale team leader that scanned 44.5mm EMD and 7.3mm fat.
HM Mitchell & Co, Mingenew, was the other buyer to pay top dollar for one of three White Suffolk rams that scanned 107kg, 42mm EMD and 3.9mm fat.