THE Lefroy family marked the 69th annual Cranmore on-property Merino and Poll Merino ram sale with strong results at Walebing.
In its 111th year of Merino breeding, the stud's loyal following, many of which are decades in the making, joined newer buyers at the sale to fill their pre-mating sire requirements.
A register of 35 commercial buyers featuring strong local and surrounding area support and graziers from as far south as Ravensthope, west to Jurien and north to Geraldton, continued to invest in their Merino enterprises despite the season being less than favourable to a lot of livestock producers across WA.
The Lefroy family maintained its ram numbers from last year's strong sale with 200 Merino and Poll Merino rams offered by the Landmark selling team.
Opening the sale, Landmark auctioneer and Wongan Hills representative Grant Lupton, welcomed new and long-time buyers to the sale and congratulated the Lefroy family on the quality of the sale team, ongoing efforts and commitment to Merino breeding.
"I have been coming here for a long time and there is always improvement and new things happening such as DNA testing which Cranmore clients will get the long-term benefits in their sheep flocks," Mr Lupton said.
At sale's end, all bar two rams had found new homes, with 198 selling at auction to average $1755 overall and gross $347,500.
This was marginally back by $69 on average compared to last year's result where a total clearance of 200 rams sold for an average of $1824.
Broken down the line-up of 128 Merino rams softened on last year's sale with 126 rams selling under the hammer to average $1520, back $290 from last year where all 131 rams sold to average $1810.
The Poll Merinos were the sale's biggest improvers, claiming the sale's average stakes with a complete clearance of 72 rams, averaging $2167 and marking a significant $316 jump in average from last year where all 69 rams sold to average $1851.
Consistent buyers at the top end of the market, Don and Matt McKinley, DT & M McKinley, Moora, were back in the thick of it this year with their account of nine Poll Merino rams.
The Mckinleys outlaid a solid average of $3156 and on the journey bid to the sale's $4800 top price.
The top-price bid was reserved until mid-sale for one of the sale team's heaviest rams from the late June scanning.
Penned in lot 114 the 90.5kg (118pc) son of Kerin Poll 16-137 displayed September tests 19.7 micron and 15.7 CV and May shorn greasy fleece weight (six months growth) of 4.6kg (127pc compared to sale team average).
It scanned 31mm EMD (104pc) and 3.2mm fat (128pc) and was one of the highest indexing rams at 142 DP+, 135 FP+ and 147 MP+ with trait leading ASBVs for YSS at 5 and YWT 9.2.
The McKinley family runs a significant self-replacing commercial Merino ewe flock in conjunction with its Moore Park Poll Dorset stud.
Ewes are mated to both Merino and Poll Dorset rams while a number of the F1 Poll Dorset ewes are retained and joined back to Poll Dorsets rams to produce an F2 prime lamb.
Mr McKinley said they have been buying at Cranmore for about the past 14 years and before that were breeding their own Cranmore-based flock rams.
He said they targeted the dual purpose type rams at Cranmore.
"We look for the good carcase animals that have high wool cut," Mr McKinley said.
"The Cranmore sheep are not over prepared and are bred in our area and well suited to the environment."
The sale's $4300 second top-priced ram was paid by another long-time sale supporter the Vanbeek family, Koolena Farm, Gillingarra.
The family finished the sale with five Polls and the sale team leader Merino ram averaging $2600 for their account.
Their top bid went to the team-leading Poll ram penned in lot five containing an 80kg Kerin Poll 13-0980 son.
It displayed wool tests and scan results of 19.7 micron, 17.8 CV, 4.1kg GFW (113pc), 32mm EMD (108pc) and 3.1mm fat (124pc) while recording strong ASBVs across most traits, including trait leading for YSS 5.1 and among the team's highest ranking across all indexes 145 DP+, 127 FP + and 141 MP+ in addition to 15.1 YCFW, 7.8 YSL, 7.6 YWT, 0.5 YEMD and 0.3 YFAT.
Brendan Vanbeek said his father Marty first started buying rams at Cranmore about 35 years ago when the family first moved to the Gillingarra property.
He said they were aiming to turn wethers off earlier while still getting a good wool cut and select rams accordingly.
"I look for a nice even staple and good numbers - the top ram was a good dual purpose sheep and why I didn't want to let him go," Mr Vanbeek said.
There were plenty of buyers prepared to go the extra yard, bidding beyond $3000 to acquire their selections, many of which were among larger ram numbers.
Long-time buyers and regulars at the top of the market the House family, Wong Wong Pastoral Company, Watheroo, collected a team of 10 Merino rams, averaging $2690 and including the sale's $3500 equal top price Merino ram in their selections.
Penned in lot 26, the 80kg ram (105pc) had the heaviest wool cut of 4.8kg GFW (132pc) testing at 18.8 micron and 21.8 CV with scans of 31.5mm EMD (106pc) and 3mm fat (120pc) with solid wool and carcase ASBVs and indexes across all measured traits 14.9 YCFW, -0.6 FD,-0.7 YDCV, 5.9 YSL, 4.1 YWT, 0.2 YEMD, 0.3 YFAT, 135 DP+, 127 FP+ and 134 MP+.
BM & KC Micke, Gingin, paid $3500 and $3300 for their two rams with their top bid going to the Poll ram in lot 39, another high wool cutting ram with measurements of 20.5 micron, 17.1 CV and 4.3kg GFW (118pc) and ASBVs of 16 YCFW, 9.4 YSL and indexes 132 DP+, 136 FP+ and 140 MP+.
Return volume buyer GM Humphrey & Co, Moora, purchased 12 rams (nine Merino and three Polls) paying from $1000 to a top of $3200 deep into the catalogue in lot 132 for a poll ram testing 19.4 micron, 16.5 CV and 4.3kg GFW (118pc).
Ranfurly Agriculture, Moora, returned for a team of 11 rams (seven Merino and four Polls), paying to a $3000 top twice and Kayanaba Grazing Company, Dandaragan, also bid to $3000 twice for eight mostly Poll rams.
Busy buyers at the sale were 36-year Cranmore clients Richard and Leonie Banks, Yolander Holdings, Kojonup.
The couple purchased eight rams for themselves (five Merinos and three Polls) paying from $1500 to $2800 twice and a further 12 rams (10 Merinos and two Polls) at $1200 to $2600 for their niece Jodi Duncan, Iluka Family Trust, Ravensthorpe, whose family is another long-time buyer.
The Banks family run 5000 Merino ewes joined to both Merino and terminal sires in conjunction with 100 British Breed beef cows.
Leonie Banks said the Cranmore bloodline were low maintenance sheep with their white fine wools that handled the higher rainfall conditions very well.
She said they look for lower micron and CV while trying to keep some consistency with their fleece weights.
Other return buyers to build bigger numbers at the sale included G & Y Roberts, Dandaragan, who operated at value for their 14 rams ($800-$1000) as did Annandale Pty Ltd, Moora, paying from $1100 to $1500 for 11 rams and Banksia Downs Grazing Company, Coomberdale, 10 rams from $1200 to $2500.
Carslake Holding Pty Ltd, Beverley and Arrawarra Pty Ltd, Watheroo, loaded up nine rams each while Kenilworth Agriculture, Moora and NR & LM Pearse, Miling, finished the sale with seven rams each.