Eyes will be on Bendigo as the Australian Sheep & Wool Show's Merino ram sale kicks off the ram selling season and sets the precedent for a busy period ahead.
In its 20th year, Landmark and Elders will offer a huge catalogue of Merino and Poll Merino rams from local and interstate vendors.
Elders auctioneer Ross Milne said there would be entries from five states - Victoria, South Australia, NSW, Queensland and Tasmania.
Mr Milne said while final entry numbers were not yet finalised, they were expecting a similar number of rams to be on offer as there were last year.
He said the ASWS was an ideal buying situation for all involved, as it matched suitable buyers with vendors, irregardless of location.
"It's a great opportunity for vendors to find a suitable market for their sheep," he said.
He said current dry conditions may have an impact on the success of the sale, but that the sale attracted specialist buyers who would be there no matter what.
"You've got the stud guys who buy the better-end of the catalogue, and the commercial guys who buy rams for their own joinings," he said.
He said he expected to reach a similar average to last year.
Last year, a 78 per cent clearance was achieved on the 125 rams offered, as 97 sold to a top price of $20,000 three times and an average price of $5041.
A particular ram from Nerstane Merino stud, Woolbrook, NSW, sired two of the three top-priced rams (one by Coryule Merino stud, Willowvale, and the other by Roseville Park Merino stud, Dubbo, NSW) and the third sale-topper was another by the stud itself.
Coryule stud manager Craig Trickey said it would be "hard to top" last year's mind-blowing result.
But he will try his best, offering two rams for sale.
One is polled, which is bred out of a Coryule-bred ram 140672, and the other is horned, which is by Roseville Park 38.
"The polled ram is a big, deep, barrelled sheep with good bone and structure," he said.
"The other ram is looking pretty good too, he's got a good body, and rich, long-stapled wool."
He said the ram sale was a great marketplace, and no matter what prices were achieved, was a good platform to at least get people looking at your sheep.
"It's good enough to get your rams in front of those people to look at," he said.
Merino ram sale committee chairperson Warren McRae, who is also the stud principal of Oakbank Merino stud at Gre Gre North, said it would be interesting to see how the sale played out.
"From where it's rained, there should be some strong buying, but there might be a few less buyers out of NSW as their ewe numbers are down," Mr McRae said.
"But in other areas, the sheep market's been good, so that might counteract things."
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He said having the sale on the Sunday rather than the Monday, which happened for the first time last year and would happen again this year, should attract more interest.
"We got the show going a bit earlier to make time for it [last year], and I think it really paid off," he said.
He said there would be an impressive genetic pool on offer at Bendigo.
"Some of the best sheep in Australia will be at this sale, but there'll also be good-valued, commercial rams for those commercial buyers," he said.
Mr McRae will offer three rams at the sale and said given recent rain on his property, they were looking good.
"They're 2-year-old shedded rams, and the dry certainly affected them a bit, but it's been good to get decent rain in May," he said.
Costerfield-based Koole Vale Merino and Poll Merino stud has three rams ready to go under the hammer at Bendigo.
Stud principal Alan Harris said two were horned and the third was polled.
Mr Harris said he was pleased with his line-up and hoped there would be a bit of optimism at the sale on the back of some rain.
"I think rain will be a big factor, we're reasonably optimistic that people will be positive," he said.
"They may not be cashed up, but hopefully they're keen on some good genetics."
The ram sale kicks off at 1pm on Sunday, July 21, at the Bendigo showgrounds.