BUYERS were treated to a top quality line-up of Merino, Poll Merino, White Suffolk and Suffolk rams at the 25th Williams Breeders' Ram Sale and they responded accordingly.
Despite the dry season, which has seen many ewes leave the system and huge volatility in the wool market over the past three months, buyers weren't distracted too much in their bidding, pushing prices to a high of $6100 for a Poll Merino ram and $1600 for a White Suffolk sire.
With support from an extensive list of 56 registered local buyers and others from further afield who know the quality genetics in the Williams area, bidding was solid throughout, ensuring a positive result for the six local studs involved, given the season.
Combined, the studs offered 259 Merino and Poll Merino rams and 72 prime lamb sires, making it one of the biggest multi-vendor, multi-breed sales in the State this year and they sold them at a clearance rate of 84 per cent.
Overall the sale averaged $1396 for the 279 rams sold, which was down $45 on last year's average of $1441, the best ever recorded in the sale's 25 year history.
Both Elders auctioneer Nathan King and Landmark auctioneer Michael Altus agreed that it was a solid sale throughout and it was a quality presentation of rams from all vendors.
Mr King said given how the season has dried off quickly across WA, the sale held up better than expected in terms of both prices and clearances.
"Speaking to most vendors after the sale they were happy with the results," Mr King said.
"It was typical of most sales this year the competition on the better rams was very good and anything that wasn't quite right was overlooked.
"There was certainly plenty of opportunities in the sale for buyers looking to purchase volume teams of quality rams at realistic values which has been the case at most sales this year."
Mr Altus said for the trying season that was getting drier by the day, the sale held up extremely well across both the Merinos and the prime lamb sires.
"Compared to last year the sale probably lacked a few volume orders due to the dry season and this had an impact on the clearance and average compared to last year's extremely strong sale," Mr Altus said.
"With the reduced competition compared to last year, buyers were able to be selective and were able to get good genetics at good values.
"While the average and the number of rams sold compared to last year was back this was certainly no reflection of the quality of the offering, the breeders again put forward a top line-up of rams."
p Merino/Poll Merino
The sale started on the Merino and Poll Merino offering and it was solid throughout given the season and volatility in the wool market over the past three months.
When the Elders and Landmark auctioneering teams finished on the last Merino, 224 out of the 259 rams offered had sold for an average of $1525.
Similar to other sales this year, the numbers were back across the board - the average was back $30, the gross was back $40,900 and the number of rams sold was back 22 head on last year, when 246 out of 263 rams sold for an average of $1555.
In the breakdown 154 out of 174 Poll Merinos sold at an average of $1537, up $45 on 2018, while the Merino side of the catalogue saw 70 rams sold from 85 offered at an average of $1500, back $168.
The Hogg family's Navanvale stud topped this section, when a square, deep-bodied Poll Merino sire from its offering was knocked down for $6100.
After Mr King took an opening bid of $3000 on the extra long-stapled, upstanding ram, a bidding war broke out as a number of bidders threw in bids chasing the quality ram.
In the end it was return buyers to the stud Wayne and Simon Schulz, WB & BM Schulz, Williams, who prevailed with the winning bid at $6100.
The long-bodied, bright, white woolled 115 kilogram ram had current wool figures of 20.2 micron, 3.4 SD, 16.8 CV and 99.8pc comfort factor (CF).
Wayne Schulz said it was the ram's extra length of staple which really appealed to them.
"We liked his overall frame and structure but in the end it was the extra staple length he carried that made us chase him," Mr Schulz said.
"He is a big, well-balanced ram carrying plenty of wool."
Mr Schulz said they would use the ram in their nucleus flock of 140 ewes to breed rams for their own use.
The operation mates 2800 ewes to Poll Merino rams and 2000 Merino ewes to White Suffolk rams, which are also bred by the Schulz family.
The top-priced Merino ram was also found in the Navanvale run, when an upstanding, stylish, white woolled ram was knocked down to CA & DA Tilbrook, Tammin.
The 100kg ram has wool figures of 19.4 micron, 3.5 SD, 18.0 CV and 99.9pc CF.
Along with the top-priced Merino ram the Tilbrooks also headed back to Tammin with another Navanvale Merino at $2000 and a Poll Merino from the stud at $1500.
Repeat Navanvale buyer Capemont Farms, Katanning, had strong influence on the Navanvle run, purchasing 10 Poll rams at an average of $3080.
It paid to a top of $4400, the equal second top price in the sale, for a deep, square 109kg ram which had wool figures of 19.6 micron, 3.0 SD, 15.3 CV and 99.7pc CF.
Also in the Capemont Farms team at $4200 was an upstanding ram with a great constitution that weighed in at 112kg and carried wool testing 20.9 micron, 3.5 SD, 16.7 CV and 99.7pc CF.
Capemont Farms may have put together a double figure team in the Navanvale run but it wasn't the volume buyer in the run, this title went to return buyers of eight years Jamie and Alex Anderson, Glenorchy Grazing Co, Williams.
The Andersons secured 15 rams from the Navanvale offering, made up of 14 Merinos to a top of $2100 twice and an average of $1307 and a single Poll at $800.
Jamie Anderson said they continued to return and buy at Navanvale because of the good long wools they produced along with the good bodies and constitutions of the sheep.
The Andersons are looking to mate 2800 ewe to Merinos and 1400 Merino ewes to White Suffolk sires this year.
The Panizza family, HA & SA Panizza & Co, Williams, was again active in the Navanvale offering after buying for the first time last year.
This year they purchased seven Merinos at a $1386 average which included sires at $2300 and $2200 and four Polls to a top of $2400 and an average of $1675.
Other buyers to have a strong influence in the Navanvale run were return client Rodney Petchell, WG & EM Petchell, Williams, who averaged $1638 over a team of eight Merinos which topped at $2700, while the Lavender family, GE & NA Lavender, Williams, purchased four Polls at a $2000 average and one Merino for $2600 and BG & MA Hardie, Wandering, purchased two Merinos at $2700 and $2600.
By the end of its run, the Navanvale stud had cleared 45 of its 54 Merino sires at an average of $1551 (down $109) and 26 of its 35 Polls for an average of $2312 (up $431) to finish with an overall average of $1830 over the 71 rams sold from 89 offered, which was up $101 on last year.
The Haddrick family's Toorackie stud was the next to offer and this year it upped its offering to 70 rams and by the end of its run it had cleared 67 under the hammer to the sale's equal second top price of $4400 and an average of $1454, back $64 on last year.
The $4400 top-priced Toorackie ram was purchased by Daniel Zadow, WR & PC Zadow, Kojonup, who has been buying from Toorackie since the Hyfield stud dispersed.
Mr Zadow said his top selection showed both top wool quality and quantity.
"It is a good heavy cutter and its wool has a nice, defined crimped about it," Mr Zadow said.
The long-stapled, well-covered 104kg ram had wool figures of 21 micron, 3.7 SD and 100pc CF.
Along with the top-priced ram Mr Zadow purchased another three Toorackie rams to finish with a team of four at $2525.
The rams will be used in the family's nucleus flock of 200 ewes to breed rams for the family's sheep enterprise which mates 8500 ewe to Merinos and 3000 Merino ewes to Poll Dorset and White Suffolk sires.
The second best price in the Toorackie run was $3600 paid by repeat Toorackie buyer the Batt family, Matlock Farms Pty Ltd, Boddington, which finished the day with eight rams from the stud at an average of $2000.
The well-nourished, stylish woolled ram which hit the $3600 price tag weighed 116kg and had wool figures of 20.0 micron, 4.0 SD and 100pc CF.
The volume buyer in the Toorackie offering was Matt Carne, M Carne & Co, Williams, who secured 17 rams to a top of $1500 three times and an average of $1247.
Other big buyers in terms of numbers in the run was return buyer GH & JD Medlen, Williams, which averaged $1555 over a team of nine which topped at $2100, while fellow repeat buyer KN & LA Medlen, Williams, also secured a team of nine to a top of $1600 twice and an average of $1156.
Also having an influence in the Toorackie offering at the top end was SJ & BJ Schulz, Williams, which purchased a team of six rams to a top of $2600 and an average of $1667.
The Rintoul family's Auburn Valley stud was next up with an offering of 31 Merinos and 29 Poll Merinos.
It cleared 25 of its Merinos for an average of $1408 (back $278 on 2018) and 21 Polls for an average of $1295 (back $20) to finish with an overall average of $1357, which was back $147 on last year's average of $1504 when it sold 55 from 58 rams.
Prices hit a high of $2200 in the Auburn Valley run for an upstanding, long-stapled Merino ram knocked down to return buyer Colin Cowcher, CS & TT Cowcher, Williams.
The deep, square 98.5kg ram, which is a grandson of Pooginook Ranger, had current wool figures of 20.1 micron, 3.5 SD, 17.4 CV and 99.7pc CF.
Mr Cowcher was strong on the Merino offering from Auburn Valley, not only did he purchase the stud's top-priced ram he purchased another five Merinos to finish with a team of six at an average of $1950.
He also paid $2000 twice for two other Pooginook Ranger grandsons which displayed extremely long staple lengths.
The first one weighed 94kg and had wool figures of 21.5 micron, 3.7 SD and 99.4pc CF while the second one weighed 94.5kg and had wool figures of 22.8 micron, 3.6 SD and 97.7pc CF.
Also just buying from the stud's Merino run was second year buyers IM Wilkie & Son, Williams, which purchased five Merinos to a top of $1600 and an average of $1360.
The top price for Auburn Valley's Poll Merino offering was $1700 achieved four times.
Three of the $1700 top-priced rams were purchased by second year buyers the Panizza family, HA & SA Panizza & Co, Williams.
The first of the $1700 rams purchased by the Panizza family weighed 96kg and had wool figures of 21.2 micron, 3.5 SD and 99.0pc CF, the second ram was heavier at 109kg with wool figures of 21.3 micron, 3.8 SD and 99.0pc CF and the third had wool figures of 21.4 micron, 3.7 SD and 99.0pc CF with a bodyweight of 108kg.
The first ram carried Pooginook bloodlines while the second two had Coromandel bloodlines in their pedigrees.
Along with the three Polls at $1700 the Panizza family purchased another two Polls from Auburn Valley, both at $1200 and four Merinos to a top of $2000 and an average of $1350.
The fourth Auburn Valley Poll to sell for $1700 was purchased by repeat buyer Joe Schorer, Timbarra Trading, Wandering, who finished the day with six Polls at an average of $1216 and three Merinos averaging $1000.
The $1700 ram, which had Coromandel genetics in its background, weighed 99kg and had wool figures of 20.9 micron, 3.9 SD and 98.9pc CF.
Fellow repeat Wandering buyer Bob Treasure, RE & OM Treasure & Sons, also had a strong influence in the Auburn Valley run purchasing six Polls to a top of $1600 three times and an average of $1367 and one Merino at $800.
Mr Treasure said he has been buying from Auburn Valley since the Brookdale stud dispersed.
"They suit our country and are good sheep that produce quality long-stapled wools," Mr Treasure said.
The Treasure family mate 3000 ewes to Merinos and 600 Merino ewes to Poll Dorset sires.
Mr Treasure said they run their wethers through to two years old to give them more flexibility in their operation.
"Our wool clip averaged 18 micron last year and we believe we have got a bit to fine so we are trying to increase our fibre diameter in a bid to increase our cut," Mr Treasure said.
The Higham family's Culbin Park stud rounded out the sale's Merino and Poll Merino offering with a team of 40 Polls and it cleared them all for an average of $1300, back $27 on last year.
Leading the way in the Culbin Park team was the seventh ram offered when it was knocked down for the stud's $2700 top price to LR & MD Martin, Williams.
The upstanding, deep-bodied, stylish woolled 107kg ram had wool figures of 17.8 micron, 3.2 SD and 99.9pc CF.
The next best price in the Culbin Park team was $2300 paid by repeat buyer WB & N Harrison, Kojonup, for a long-stapled, rich woolled, 115kg ram which had wool figures of 18.1 micron, 2.7 SD and 100pc CF.
The Harrisons also went home with a second Culbin Park sire at $1600.
Buyers of a handful of years Simmonds Fabrications, Mundaring, averaged $1700 across a team of five that topped at $1800 twice.
Long-term local clients Brian and Janette Liddelow, RF & O Liddelow and Cliff and Norma Hall, CA & NS Hall, were the volume buyers in the Culbin Park run, buying nine and eight head respectively.
The Liddelows averaged $1244 across their team which topped at $1700 twice while the Halls paid to a top of $1700 as well and finished with an average of $1250 across their team.
Mr Hall said it was the combination of wool and carcase traits which he liked about the Culbin Park sheep.
"They breed good, big growthy sheep with good wools," Mr Hall said.
The Halls this year will mate 1800 ewes to Culbin Park sires and 1000 Merino ewes to Suffolk rams.
p Prime Lamb Sires
There were 70 sires yarded in the prime lamb sire section from two vendors and while there was stronger buying support compared to last year, buyers still missed an opportunity to secure quality sires.
By the completion of the offering, 55 of the 72 rams offered had sold at an average of $867, which meant in comparison to last year six more rams sold and the average was up $12.
Last year 48 rams sold from 88 offered at an average of $855.
The Bingham family's Iveston stud was again the biggest vendor in the section and this year they only offered White Suffolk sires from its stable.
By the end of its run it had cleared 49 of its 60 White Suffolks offered for an average of $880, which was up $6 on 2018.
In last year's sale the stud offered 69 White Suffolks and sold 31 for an average of $874.
The stud's offering topped at $1600 when its fourth ram offered was knocked down to first time buyer Ray Shepherd, RE & A Shepherd, Mt Barker.
Mr Shepherd said the ram was a true White Suffolk type and was the type of ram he was looking for breed rams which would sire good sucker lambs.
He will use the ram in a nucleus flock of White Suffolk ewes to breed rams for his prime lamb operation in which he mates 2600 Border Leicester-Merino cross ewes to White Suffolk sires.
The ram, which is sired by Bundara Downs 179821, has LambPlan figures of 0.48 BWT, 10.4 WWT,15.6 PWWT, 1.7 PEMD, -0.3 PFAT and a CarcasePlus index of 199.
Mr Shepherd also purchased another Iveston sire which has LambPlan figures of 11.8 WWT, 17.6 PWWT and a CarcasePlus index of 211 for $1400.
Once again the Fowler family, Congeling Park Grazing Co, Williams, was a dominant force in the Iveston run.
This year the operation purchased 10 rams to a top of $1300 twice and an average of $1040.
Also putting together a double figure team of 10 Iveston rams, all at $700, was Tuer Pty Ltd, Williams, while RL & CM Wiese, Highbury, averaged $833 across a team of six and GA Harding, Williams, secured five all at $700.
Rounding out the prime lamb sire offering and the sale in general was third-year vendor Kira Batterbee, Kirrie Suffolk stud.
The Kirrie stud offered 10 Suffolks and sold six under the hammer to a top of $900 and an average of $767, which was back $152 on last year.
The top price in the Kirrie offering of $900 was paid by the Liddelow family, RF & O Liddelow, for an upstanding sire which has LambPlan figures of 0.54 BWT, 8.9 WWT, 13.5 PWWT, 0.6 PEMD, -0.3 PFAT and a CarcasePlus index of 176.
Return buyer KM & LD Johnston, Williams, purchased three rams from the stud at $800 and $700 twice, while the final buyer of the Kirrie rams was G Bruce & NK Hogg & Sons, Williams, which paid $800 and $700 for its two purchases.