AMID a challenging environment for WA beef producers, the Cowcher family turned the table on some adverse bull sales so far this season to record improved results at the 32nd annual Willandra Simmental and Red Angus on-property bull sale at Williams last week.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Willandra brand (formerly Quaindering) and another big crowd turned out to inspect the top line-up of 52 traditional Simmental and Red Angus bulls and enjoy the Cowcher family's warm hospitality and popular steak lunch.
A buying list of 33 registrations from local and south west areas and as far as Hyden and Esperance, along with interstate support, were prepared to go the extra yard on their bull selections and help the family celebrate the milestone.
Strongly supported by Landmark's State network, the Landmark selling team led by auctioneer Michael Altus, overall cleared 43 of 52 bulls at auction (83 per cent) to average $6134.
While numbers offered were back slightly on last year, the buoyant sale resulted in an improved clearance and sale returns with the average up $586.
At the 2019 sale 42 of 57 Simmental and Red Angus bulls (74pc) sold at auction to average $5548.
The breakdown of the breeds saw 29 of 34 Simmental bulls (85pc) sell under the hammer to average $6560, up $1010 on last year's sale where 30 of 39 bulls (77pc) sold to average $5550.
The Red Angus team resulted in 14 of 18 bulls (78pc) finding new homes at auction to average $5250, back marginally by $292 on last year where 12 of 18 bulls sold to average $5542.
Danny Partridge and Jenny Maye, Tullamore Park Simmental stud, Busselton, returned to the sale for another stud sire and paid the sale's $13,000 top price for their selection in lot three.
The polled Willandra President P64 is a mid-April 2018-drop son of homebred parents Lee Marvin (by Topweight Jack Arta) and a Willandra Zorba daughter Olive F115.
The classy 870kg bull combines outstanding physical attributes of a stud sire with equally as impressive EBVs including ranking as a Simmental breed trait leader for 200-day weight (+32) and vealer terminal index (VT) ($57), top 1-5pc for 600-day weight (+61), retail beef yield (RBY) (+2.2) and carcase weight (CW) (+36) and top 5-10pc for remaining indexes - domestic maternal +55 (DM), northern terminal (NT) +$34 and export maternal (EM) +$75.
President is the third Willandra stud sire to join the Tullamore Park stud ranks and Mr Partridge said their new sire provided a fresh family line to the herd and would be joined to the stud's first and second calvers for a late April early May calving.
"This is outcross genetics for us sired by the highest figured bull of that year's drop retained by Willandra," Mr Partridge said.
"He has a good frame and temperament, high growth and EMA and he is polled which is a strong selection point for us."
The Tullamore Park stud sells bulls privately on-farm.
Despite being penned toward the rear of the catalogue, lot 26 Willandra Panama P164 proved a head turner when it was knocked down for the sale's $11,500 second top price.
Panama was purchased by the Barana Simmentals, Gunnedah, New South Wales, through Landmark WA livestock manager Leon Giglia.
The polled 792kg son of Topweight Jack Arta and a Maj Robo daughter recorded EBVs in the breed's top 1-5pc for 600-day weight, NT, top 5pc 200-day weight and CW and top 5-10pc for 400-day weight, RBY and EM index.
Another Simmental bull to make five figures was the polled Willandra Prince P107 in lot 13, knocked down to Glenpennant Farms, Manjimup, for $10,250.
With positive fats, the 862kg early-May 2018-born son of Willandra Jericho (by Woonallee BHR Tornado) ranked in the top 1-5pc for 200 and 600-day weights and milk and top 5-10pc for CW.
Another return stud buyer Audrey Weightman, Topweight Simmental stud, Margaret River, paid $9500 for the sale team leader Willandra Panache, a 860kg polled early April 2018-drop bull by Willandra Lenny.
The more moderate birthweight bull recorded curve bending growth in the top 1-10pc for all intervals and CW, top 5pc RBY and NT index and top 5-10pc for DM and EM indexes.
HNH Grazing Co, Pinjarra, also outlaid $9500 for their selection penned in lot 15.
The 866kg early April-2018-born horned bull was by Willandra Kansas (by Woonallee Genuine) and was another high growth and indexing bull in the top 1-5pc for 200-day weight, top 5-10pc for 600-day weight, milk and three indexes and top 10-15pc for 400-day weight and VTI.
Again it was 20-year plus client Gordon Atwell and his son Stephen, Welldon Beef, Williams, who were the sale's volume buyer by a long way.
The Atwells finished the sale with an account totalling seven Simmental bulls and for the first time this year two Red Angus bulls and will join the family's sire battery to cover the 1550 Angus female herd in the forthcoming July joining.
The April-May-drop calves are weaned in December and backgrounded in the paddock for three months before being fed in their own feedlot for 80 to 90 days and turned off at a minimum 500kg liveweight (270-280kg dressed).
Mr Atwell said they were trying something different with the Red Angus bulls over their Angus heifers this year.
There were a number of buyers to source two Simmental bulls at the sale including Landmark Brunswick agent Errol Gardiner ($5500-$6000) representing IR & RB Staples, Harvey, Jabenco Trust, Albany, ($4500-$6000), PP & B Smith, Busselton ($7000-$8500) and RJ & FJ Nancarrow, Pinjarra, ($4000-$5000) while Hyden graziers Terrica Valley, Hyden, added a Red Angus bull to their two Simmental bulls ($5000-$5500) purchased earlier.
p Red Angus
Victorian Red Angus breeder Bob Boot, Boothill Red Angus stud, Drouin South, made his presence felt at the sale, outbidding competition on the sale's two top-priced Red Angus bulls.
Mr Boot paid $8000 for the opening lot Willandra Paraquay P52, a mid-April 2018-drop son of Jillangolo Juggler J99 and a Jutland Fraser daughter Willandra Zinnia K104.
The 884kg stylish sire recorded a strong set of performance figures and indexes, including ranking in the top 1pc for 400-day weight (+62) and CW (+50), top 1-5pc for 200 (+37) and 600-day (+78) weights and top 5-10pc for supermarket (+$45) and northern steer indexes (+$51).
Mr Boot later paid the sale's $7500 second top Red Angus price for a 744kg low birthweight (top 15pc) mid-April 2018-drop son of homebred pedigrees Kiev K96 and Unison L11 which also ranked in the breed's top 1-5pc for EMA and top 10pc for milk.
Bob and Sandy Boot, who run 130 stud Red Angus breeders, travelled to WA in June with some fellow Victorian Red Angus enthusiasts last year to inspect the Willandra cattle and Mr Boot said they were impressed with what they saw.
"We had a good look around the young bulls and the female herd," he said.
"They are Australian bred bulls, their temperament is very good and I like the Willandra type and structure and they suit our breeding."
Consistent volume Red Angus bull buyers G Sharp & Son, Denmark, represented by Rob Williams, Primaries Denmark, secured three bulls costing from $4000 to the next highest price of $6250 for a 820kg Willandra Kenneth K73 son.
Bindoon producers MJ Preston also bid to $6250 for one of two bulls at the sale, a 794kg bull by Willandra Louis L51.
Return buyers McVay Pastoral Company, Esperance, collected a further two bulls at this year's sale, paying from $4500 to $5000.