IT WAS the year for breaking records for the Challara Poll Merino stud, Badgingarra, with its annual on-farm ram sale following on from a highly successful inaugural interstate sale.
This year's top of $4500 last Thursday was the highest it had ever reached and was a notable $800 lift from last year's sale.
This year Challara also participated in the Classings Classic Ram Sale in Murray Bridge, South Australia, on September 2, selling two sires for a stud record of $6000 and $4500.
The $6000 ram was snapped up by Mark and Cathy Chadwick, Stobo Poll Merino stud, Harrow Victoria, who are building up their stud with sons Ben and Luke.
The $4500 sire from the Classings Classic sale went to The Prime Family's, Nantoura stud, South Australia.
Achieving such high prices interstate and with first-time buyers is a nod to the quality genetics bred by Challara principals Peter and Ron Wilkinson, who along with stud classer Bill Walker, Bill Walker Classing Proprietary Limited, presented the animals for sale in Murray Bridge.
It was no wonder then that the annual on-property sale was also a highly successful event, seeing a higher top price, and clearance than the 2018 sale and a very healthy average of $1241, over the 135 rams sold under the hammer, and one negotiated post sale.
For the second year running, the 141 rams offered were haltered and tethered to rails in lines in the shed, giving buyers the opportunity to get up close and inspect them and see the effort the Wilkinsons have put into their breeding program.
Primaries of WA senior auctioneer Jay Macdonald said it was an excellent result for the stud and a credit to the hard work of the vendors.
"There has been some anxiousness over wool prices and the season up this way," Mr Macdonald said.
"Although the season is not terrible, it is behind where it could be, but it did not affect today in terms of prices and clearances.
"It was a quality line-up of sheep from start to finish, with good interest from the Eastern States."
Mr Macdonald said the Wilkinsons had put in a lot of work with the assistance of stud classer Mr Walker, which had helped raise their profile outside of WA.
The momentum from the earlier South Australian sale carried through and the exposure it garnered the Challara stud was evident, with Mr Walker tasked with bidding for three new interstate buyers.
The first being lot three the $4500 top price paid on the day for a big Gunallo sired Poll Merino ram with measurements of 18.2 micron, 3.2 SD, 17.6 CV, 7.2 PWWT, -0.2 YFAT, -0.6 YEMD and 149 DP+.
The sire was purchased by Mr Walker for Stuart and Gavin Brophy, Tintintara, South Australia, who had seen the Challara sheep in Murray Bridge.
"They actually missed out on winning the bids on the top priced Challara sheep at the Classic sale," Mr Walker said.
"They quizzed me about other rams Challara might have.
"They are also big Gunallo fans, so they will be very happy this sire is on the Gunallo bloodline.
"The Challara rams skin and fibre is absolutely amazing, they have a bold crimp and it feels like silk."
The $3750 second top price of the sale was also well over the sale top of 2018, with the buyer travelling from Beacon to attend the day.
The Leachim sired Poll Merino ram exhibited measurements of 17.2 micron, 3.3 SD, 19.2 CV, 2.1 PWWT, 0.9 YFAT, 1.7 YEMD and 159 DP+ and was knocked down to Jeff Munns, Synandra Farms.
Mr Munns said he had purchased at last year's sale, but had bought Challara ewes in the past also and really liked their wool type for his 3000 head breeding flock.
"I was selecting today for long white soft wools," Mr Munns said.
"I breed my own rams and purchase from about 10 different studs and use a fair bit of semen in my program.
"I am trying to breed a multipurpose Merino that we can shear every six months and that we don't have to mules.
"We haven't mulesed in three years and are at the eight months shearing, or three times in two years now.
"The Challara genetics and wool has really been good for this, it helps pushing the staple length."
Mr Munns purchased a second ram for $1300.
With 33 registered buyers in attendance, there were plenty of volume buyers in the catalogue.
One stand out regular volume purchaser was Andrew Kenny, Rubicon Trust, Badgingarra, with his purchase of 13 sires.
Mr Kenny said he had been buying Challara rams for 11 years and was confident that whatever he purchased would perform well in his commercial flock of 4000 breeding ewes.
"I like the Challara sheep for their high fertility, their straightness and white wool," Mr Kenny said.
"They are easycare sheep and being a local stud, they are bred for our conditions.
"They really are a dual purpose sheep, with a good combination of meat and wool."
Mr Kenny said his purchases were dictated a fair bit by price on the day, with the elite rams well contested at auction.
He purchased to a top of $2000 and a average of $1262.
Also purchasing 13 rams on the day was first-time buyer Richard Notley, Western Nodes, Dandaragan, to a top of $1500 and an average of $854.
Mr Notley is getting back into Merinos and had heard about the Challara genetics and was obviously impressed with the rams offered.
Another return volume buyer was JF & MM Brennand, Southern Cross, with their 10 to a top of $1900 and an average of $1400.
RP & J Gates, Casterton, Victoria, purchased two sires to a top of $2500, while Butch and Jodie Dunn, Penong, South Australia, rounded out the interstate clients with their $1700 sire.
With too many volume buyers to mention it is no wonder Peter Wilkinson was extremely happy with the prices and clearance achieved at the Challara sale this year.
"We had 10 new registered buyers this year in total," Mr Wilkinson said.
"We were also missing seven of our regular buyers, some due to retirement and others, who have reduced sheep numbers due to the seasonal conditions, so it was a bit of a buyers market, meaning we still have some rams available for private selection.
"We are very thankful for the support of our clients and thank all the buyers and underbidders who operated in the sale.
"It was also great to see the recognition of interstate buyers and a stud record price for us."