SHORTHORN bulls sold to $7000 at Crathes Park Shorthorn stud's bull and heifer sale at the Muchea Livestock Centre last week.
The developing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was evident with just a small crowd of buyers attending the sale.
Without Crathes Park pastoral supporters at the sale, who are still feeling the effects of the prolonged dry conditions, local buyers and an interstate order enjoyed selecting from a top line-up of rising two-year-old Shorthorn bulls and unjoined 2019-drop stud Shorthorn heifers, generally paying good value for money prices.
The subdued buying support inevitably took its toll on clearances with a number of bulls and heifers overlooked at auction, but given the amount of buyers registered, it was a reasonable result with clearances up on last year's sale.
At the end of selling, the Elders selling team steered by auctioneer Don Morgan, cleared 13 of the 19 (68 per cent) well-grown bulls to average $4115.
The line-up of 18 unjoined heifers saw half of them sell to solid interstate stud and WA interest from as far as WA's deep south on selected lots to average $1733.
Compared to last year's sale, bull and heifer numbers sold were up by three each, with only a minor dip in values felt at $160 and $17 for bulls and heifers respectively.
Last year 10 of 21 (48pc) bulls were sold at auction to average $4275 and six of 14 heifers (43pc) sold to average $1750.
Generational Shorthorn breeders and return Crathes Park buyers Leigh McLarty and his son Nick, Blythewood Pastoral Company, Pinjarra, finished the sale with four bulls costing from $4000 to the sale's top price of $7000 for Crathes Pitman P82 in lot five.
Pitman was a late May 2018-drop, polled, roan bull by power sire Crathes Hastings and out of a Marrington cow by Sprys Advancer A114 with Crathes Park retaining semen for use in the stud.
The bull was slightly above average in its birthweight, but recorded impressive growth and carcase EBVs, ranking in the top 1pc for intramuscular fat (IMF), top 1-5pc for eye muscle area (EMA), top 5pc for carcase weight (CW), top 15pc for 400-day weight, top 10pc for 600-day weight with positive fats and well above breed average indexes.
Shorthorn cattle have been a staple of the McLarty family's farming history, having run Shorthorns for more than a 100 years at their historic property.
The family runs a pure mob of Shorthorn females with crossbred cows with Simmental and Red Angus infusions.
Leigh McLarty said the bulls would likely be used over Shorthorn cows to increase their purebred Shorthorn female as they "had got a bit behind in their Shorthorn numbers".
"Mainly chasing thickness in the bulls, but moderate frames, sound structure, good feet and legs with stretch and softness are also important," Mr McLarty said.
"We like the maternal qualities of the Shorthorns and they do well in crossbreeding with the hybrid vigour and getting the weights up in their calves."
David Lindberg, Elders Albany, assisting Silton Park, Narrikup, was an active buyer, paying to the sale's $6000 second top price for one of two bulls and the $2000 second top price for one of two heifers.
Their top bull was an average birthweight roan son of Crathes Laing L51 that ranked in the top 5pc for IMF and top 10-15pc for EMA and RBY.
After missing out on the top-priced heifer, the operation's top heifer selection was a roan early May 2019-drop daughter of Crathes Kiev.
Return buyers Bancell Falls, Pinjarra, secured three bulls at the sale and Glenreach, Pinjarra, also collected three bulls bidding to $5000 for a red coated son of Hastings.
Outlaying the sale's $2400 top heifer price was Clinton Gartrell, Elders Busselton, for a mid-May 2019-drop polled roan heifer by Laing L51 and out of a Crathes Denon daughter that ranked in the top 1pc for IMF.
Bidding via phone on behalf of the Southern Cross Shorthorn stud, Purlewaugh, New South Wales, Mr Gartrell also successfully purchased two heifers for $1600 each.
Rhys Hebberman, Primaries/Nutrien Livestock central midlands, assisting return buyers SC & HM Jupp, Gingin, selected four heifers for $1600 each to go with their single bull purchase.