EXCUSE the pun but it really was a momentous occasion in Jerdacuttup last week when Lawsons Momentous M518 fetched a tidy $31,500 final bid in the first single vendor Angus stud bull sale in WA this year.
The team at Lawsons Angus once again put together the annual line-up of bulls that encouraged buyers to travel long distances and with quality to be seen right through the 94 strong catalogue, there wasn’t much to be disappointed about with all bulls selling by the end of the day.
Setting the tone for Angus bull sales in 2018, the Lawsons genetics proved resilient to the recent reduction in beef prices, averaging $7581 on sale day to be down only $131 on last year’s sale average of $7712.
The top price on the day was more than double the top set last year, demonstrating the standout qualities of the sleek, well-balanced and showy fella in lot one.
Before the sale, Lawsons Angus principal Harry Lawson said lot one had spurred quite a bit of excitement.
“A bull has to be pretty unique to get our attention but Momentous met that criteria,” he said.
“He comes out of a cow herd and production system that continues to place pressure on fertility and the ability to breed in tough conditions, but he is very quiet and completely sound structurally with the figures and pedigree to make him probably the most complete bull we have ever bred.”
Lawsons Momentous M518 is an AI son of Gar Momentum and out of Lawsons Africa H229, born as a late June 2016-drop calf.
The visual outlook of the young bull was impressive and that, joined with a docile temperament, would have been enough to entice plenty of competition but it was the balance of those visual traits with well-rounded EBVs and index values which kept the bids coming until the hammer fell at $31,500.
Some of the bull’s standout EBVs included figures of +50, +94 and +117 for 200, 400 and 600-day weights and +23 milk to place it in the top 5 per cent of the Angus breed.
But most impressive were the carcase EBVs of +12.1 EMA and +4.2 IMF which both read in the top 1pc of the Angus breed.
Backing up those impressive figures, Lawsons Momentous was also in the top 1-5pc of all dollar indexes for the Angus breed.
Elders auctioneer Nathan King took the opening bid for Momentous at $15,000 but stiff competition between two online bidders, via AuctionsPlus, saw prices head straight up until a syndicate of three Pemberton-based producers, led by Independent Rural Agents (IRA) principal Colin Thexton, prevailed.
Speaking on behalf of commercial Angus producer trio of Blue River Grazing, Collins Bros and AJ & WJ Ryan & Co, Mr Thexton said Momentous was an outstanding calf.
“He’s got everything you want in a bull,” he said.
“He’s very balanced, quiet, beautiful conformation, excellent IMF and EMA EBVs and basically the complete package.
“And we think it was good value buying. He’ll be going into a fairly intensive AI program over Angus heifers and the syndicate is looking forward to seeing him progress.”
Of the three members in the buying syndicate, two were return buyers to Lawsons and one was a first-timer to the stud.
“The syndicate really believes in what the Lawsons team is doing,” Mr Thexton said.
“And they see this purchase as an opportunity to short circuit what they’re doing and get to where they want their Angus herds to be quickly.”
Lawsons Momentous had already been collected for use within the Lawsons’ breeding herd and the stud elected to retain semen marketing rights and a 50pc revenue sharing interest.
Though it was up for purchase at the Jerdacuttup sale, Momentous was already committed to a contract at Genetics Australia in Victoria from January until at least October 2018 after which time he may travel back to WA for full natural service rights retained by the new owners.
The rest of the sale reflected more moderate prices, with the second top price honours going to lot 12, which sold for $13,000 to Chimera Trust, Mt Barker.
The July 2016-drop son of Gar Sure Fire out of Lawsons Bartel E7 H221, also had a full contingent of balanced figures and indexes which was enough for Lawsons to retain semen marketing rights and 50pc revenue sharing interest.
The index dollar values stood out in particular with the bull ranking in the top 1pc across all four categories.
It also displayed growth and carcase EBVs in the top 10-15pc of the Angus breed which complemented its visual positives.
Buyer Gerald Kilpatrick is a long-time supporter of Lawsons genetics.
“A while ago I bought some cattle from people that had used Lawsons bloodlines and I was impressed by how those cattle performed,” Mr Kilpatrick said.
“Lawsons always has very good, accurate figures which I can trust.”
Of the second top-priced bull on the day, Mr Kilpatrick said it was an all-rounder.
“I liked his shape and temperament particularly, but his carcase EBVs like eye muscle and intramuscular fat caught my attention too,” he said.
The new bull, along with another balanced young bull which was sired by Paringa Judd J5 and purchased for $9000, will go to work with the young second calvers in Mr Kilpatrick’s operation.
Also buying at the top end of values was another return buyer, Esperance local Wes Graham.
Needing a few bulls to service his sizeable Angus herd, Mr Graham got into the action early, securing five bulls overall including a top of $12,000 and three others at and above the $10,000 mark.
“I was looking for bulls with the Sunrise bloodline this year because of the new genetics there,” Mr Graham said.
“The progeny from that bloodline are an impressive group of bulls that not many people have had the chance to use.
“They’re good all-rounder bulls with high growth and a nice moderate birthweight along with good carcase traits.”
Mr Graham’s top-priced selection at $12,000 was the seventh bull offered on the day.
Also a July 2016-drop calf, Lawsons Sunrise M502 was sired by Gar Sunrise R760 and out of Lawsons Evident H166.
It was in the top 5pc of the breed for 200, 400 and 600-day weights as well as for carcase weight, EMA and retail beef yield.
It also ranked in the top 10-15pc across all indexes.
Among the contingent of volume buyers on the day was the Cumming family from Jarrahlea, Boyup Brook.
Doug Cumming said the outfit had been sourcing bulls from Lawsons for the past six to seven years.
“The figures work, breeding on EBVs works and we see results from Lawsons bulls which is why we keep coming back,” Mr Cumming said.
“We look for those bulls with low birthweights, fast growth and good EMA figures and that sort of bull is easy to find in the Lawsons catalogue.”
Mr Cumming said he thought it was good value buying on the day for quality bulls with the bloodlines he was chasing.
By sale’s end, Jarrahlea had bought a total of five Lawsons sires, including lot eight at $11,000 and lot 81 at $10,000.
Lawsons Sunrise M492 was the standout for the Jarrahlea team in lot eight, born as a July 2016-drop calf by Gar Sunrise R760 and out of Lawsons Bartel E7 H532.
It ranked in the top 5-10pc across all indexes and also had impressive carcase weight, milk and IMF EBVs in the top 10-15pc of the Angus breed.
Others in the volume buying stakes included Quintarra Farms, Esperance, Durnbond Pty Ltd, Walpole and RK Agriculture, Gordon, Victoria.
Quintarra wound up with eight by the end of the sale including the third top-priced bull of the sale at $12,500 for the son of Gar Prophet in lot 10.
The June 2016-drop calf ranked in the top 10-15pc of the breed across all indexes and also had an excellent milk EBV placing it in the top 1pc of the breed.
Walpole-based Durnbond landed a team of five Lawsons bulls including a top of $10,250 for the son of Gar Anticipation 7261 in lot 68 while Victorian-based RK Agriculture had a representative in the room to secure five sires at $5000 apiece.
Jo Melville, Henderson Glendale, Boyup Brook, was another buyer who travelled to attend the Jerdacuttup sale.
She bought three appealing young bulls with the aim of lining up a well-balanced and consistent team to go over her Angus breeding herd.
“I liked those three bulls for their strong, beefy outlooks and of course their EMA and low birthweight figures,” Ms Melville said.
“In particular I liked the characteristics of the Sunrise bloodline and that bit of Bartel influence as well.
“It’s a new approach for me to try and get bulls of a very similar type to try and produce the most even line of calves possible but I’m happy that these three are like peas in a pod and will do the job well.”
Ms Melville was buying at the sale for the first time without her partner Kevin Henderson, who passed away recently, and said she hoped to do him proud with the direction she will be taking the breeding herd in the future.
The volume buyer on the day was IRA principal Colin Thexton who had been bidding via AuctionsPlus on behalf of a number of different accounts.
By the end of the sale he had tallied up 16 other bulls in addition to his initial effort on Lawsons Momentous to average $7109 across the remaining purchases.
The bulls hammered down to Mr Thexton will go to a number of properties throughout the South West.
Mr Thexton said the bulls had the EBV figures and the breeding history of good results to back up their pleasing visual outlooks.
Mr Thexton’s tally included two sires which sold for five digit values at $11,000 and $10,250, which were sons of Gar Sunrise R760 and Gar Momentum respectively, both ranking in the top 1-5pc across all indexes.
Two other buyers reached the $10,000 mark on sale day with lot nine going to Cadogan Estate, Williams, for $11,000 and lot 45 going to BM & CD Scheer, Esperance, for $10,000.
Lot nine was a son of Gar Prophet with all index values in the top 5pc while lot 45 was a son of Ayrvale Bartel E7 with strong growth EBVs across the 200, 400 and 600-day weights.
Elders auctioneer Nathan King said the sale was a success.
“Once again the Lawsons team put together a consistent team right through the catalogue which was recognised by buyers with consistent competition throughout the auction,” Mr King said.
“The Lawsons bulls all demonstrate impressive figures with good growth and carcase EBVs meaning there is always plenty of choice for buyers.
“And with the average only slightly down on last year’s sale result, it was a very solid sale given the cattle market has come back 20-30pc.
“People continue to chase good bulls and the strong presence of return buyers on the day shows their confidence in the Lawsons breeding.”
Lawsons Angus stud principals Ruth and Harry Lawson were delighted with the result on the day.
“We were particularly glad with the price range which meant that our clients could still purchase world class genetics at affordable prices,” Ruth Lawson said.
“It’s not just about high averages, we’re about providing choice and value to our clients and we’re delighted to be providing our clients with further options at our other sales at Cataby and Albany.”