THE WALSA and Farm Weekly Supreme Bull Sale at Brunswick recently recorded some positive results for breeders amid the unprecedented events unfolding globally from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the uncertain times, vendors pressed ahead to present WA commercial and stud buyers and interstate interest with a top line-up of beef bulls to select from at the Alan Evans Cattle Selling Complex.
The diverse catalogue of 86 bulls represented seven European and British breeds and 19 breeders and remains WA's biggest multi-vendor bull sale for these breeds.
While the crowd was down on the fixture's usual vibrant numbers, the register still tallied 68 prospective buyers who were not deterred by the change of sale date, started last year to be closer to the start of the traditional calving season and giving vendors some optimism going into the sale.
At times throughout the sale, buyers tended to favour some particular breeds and breeders, but once the 86th and final bull was walked through the sale ring, the Nutrien Livestock and Elders selling teams had found new homes for 59 bulls at auction for a 69 per cent clearance rate.
Overall the sale grossed $359,000 which led to a significant $793 jump in average compared to last year's sale, however bull numbers offered and sold were down.
Last year 72 bulls of the 111-bull catalogue (65pc) were sold under the hammer to gross $381,000 and average $5292.
Nutrien Livestock auctioneer Michael Altus said it was a very solid sale with good competition on the top bulls.
"The bulls were again well-presented by the vendors and the sale was well-supported by return buyers and agents alike," Mr Altus said.
"It was good to see more than 60 buyer registrations for the sale from across the State and also interstate.
"The breeds with larger offerings attracted strong interest from buyers and this resulted in a number of studs having improved results on last year.
"The final sale result was certainly up on expectations given seasonal conditions and the number of females which have left the system."
Elders stud stock auctioneer Don Morgan said the sale exceeded expectations given the impact the coronavirus was having throughout the country.
"It was pleasing to see a good number of buyer registrations at the sale," Mr Morgan said.
"Some breeds attracted strong support and sold extremely well, but buyers were selective at times which resulted in some bulls being passed in.
"But to sell 59 of 86 bulls at auction at an improved average of $6085 from last year was a solid result."
For the seventh consecutive year, the Francis family's Yallaroo Hereford stud, Busselton, claimed the sale's top-priced honours when they sold their sale team leader Yallaroo Pioneer P9 to consistent top-priced Yallaroo bull buyer Eddie Wedge, ED Wedge, Gingin, for $18,500.
The late March 2018-drop bull was sired by Yarrum Unique F181 and out of homebred cow Juliet G4.
For a below average birthweight (top 30pc) calving ease bull it displayed strong carcase performance with a big eye muscle area (EMA) of +6.5 (top 1-5pc) along with +1.6 rib fat (top 5-10pc), +2.9 rump fat (top 1-5pc), +1.1 retail beef yield and +1.0 intramuscular fat (IMF) (top 15pc).
In terms of raw data the bull weighed in at 856 kilograms and had scans of 122cm2 EMA, 5.8pc IMF, 20mm rib fat and 12mm P8 fat.
The Charolais breed kicked off this year's proceedings with two vendors offering 15 bulls.
Some selective buying saw nine of these sell under the hammer to average $4556, which was back $1178 on average compared to last year's sale where 16 of 20 bulls sold to average $5734.
The Milton family's Copplestone stud, Dardanup, offered the bulk of the Charolais bulls with eight of their 14 polled bulls heading to new paddocks at an average of $4625.
An active buyer throughout the sale on behalf of clients was Nutrien Livestock Boyup Brook agent Jamie Abbs and he paid the sale's $6000 top Charolais bull price for the fourth bull into the sale ring, Copplestone Pythagoras P8, on behalf of repeat stud buyer Tynedale Farm, Burekup, which was chasing bulls carrying muscling and a good degree of softness throughout.
The standout polled late January 2018-drop, 884kg bull was by Paringa Larendo L305E and out of a Ascot Frederick daughter and was almost retained by the Copplestone stud.
The lower birthweight bull (top 20-25pc) still recorded strong growth and carcase traits ranking in the top 10-15pc for all growth intervals, top 15pc for carcase weight (CW) and IMF and top 20pc for milk.
Mr Abbs later purchased a yearling bull also by Larendo for Tynedale Farm for $4000.
He said Tynedale Farm had been a consistent buyer of Copplestone bulls for a number of years.
"They like them as they always display excellent muscling and softness," Mr Abbs said.
"They are excellent doing bulls and the operation has achieved top results with their Copplestone progeny off both grass and grain."
The operation runs a herd of 440 Angus breeders and uses Charolais sires over them to produce calves which are sold as weaners at nine to 10 months old to local lotfeeders and grass fatteners.
Another active agent in the Copplestone run was Nutrien Livestock Bridgetown agent Ben Cooper, who secured two bulls for return stud buyer Emu Downs, Bridgetown, to use over British breed females.
Mr Cooper bid to a high of $5000 for his selection for another low birthweight good growth son of Larendo.
Nutrien Livestock Harvey representative Ralph Mosca, representing VJ & CM Cavanagh, Quindanning and C & C Minson, Roelands, each secured a new Copplestone bull for $5000.
Jarvis Polglaze's Brookside Charolais stud, Dardanup, sold a single bull for $4000 to Amber Valley Orchard, Balingup.
The polled son of Paringa Harvey L417 and out of a Palgrove Ditch daughter displayed strong growth and carcase traits ranking from the top 5-15pc with positive fats.
The offering of 27 Simmental and Black Simmental bulls offered by four vendors was the largest to be offered in the sale and it received strong support from buyers.
By the end of the run 23 Simmental and Black Simmental sires had been sold to a top of $15,000 for a traditional sire and an average of $6587, which was up a significant $1258 on last year's sale.
In the sale last year vendors offered 24 bulls and sold 19 at an average of $5329.
Topping the breed's values with a new stud record top price of $15,000 was the Tuckey family's Mubarn Simmental stud, Pinjarra, with Mubarn Pablo's Pride P10 heading to stud duties at the Weightman family's Topweight Simmental stud, Forest Grove.
Penned in lot 21, the late March 2018-drop homozygous polled bull was ET bred by Starwest Total Value and a Woonallee cow K165 (by Willandra Gomez).
The moderate framed powerful bull displayed an even spread of above average EBVs with positive fats and a top 15pc ranking for milk while scanning 7mm fats, 136cm2 EMA, 4.1pc IMF and 41cm scrotal.
Audrey Weightman said a recent purchase of a homozygous polled bull in the Eastern States subject to entering WA fell through and had them on the lookout for a double polled bull locally.
"We could have got semen from the bull but that is a big job instead of having the bull in the paddock getting on with it - so we had to bid up on the Mubarn bull or we could have missed out completely," Ms Weightman said.
"Paul Tuckey has been buying some good genetics recently and I believe he is on the right track and will go a long way.
"The bull is a big outcross in its genetics which Western Australia is needing.
"Mubarn has purchased a lot of genetics from the Woonallee stud, as have we in the past, and the bull will be a good fit for our stud.
"It obviously had some preparation but he could definitely convert which is what the commercial producer needs.
"A really ripping bull, easy fleshing, good structure and a kind natured bull."
The Mubarn stud went on to also claim the sale's top average honours with its team of four homozygous polled bulls selling to strong demand for a $8125 average.
Losing bidder on the top-priced bull Norm Trigwell, Nu-Plains Simmental stud, Boyanup, paid the breed's $8500 equal second top price for a full ET bred homozygous polled brother Mubarn Poseidon P14 which was next into the ring.
Brighton Simmental stud, Donnybrook, paid $5000 for a late March 2018-drop double polled AI-bred Mubarn bull by Woonallee Lady Killer L15.
The Patterson family, Bullock Hills stud, Woodanilling, was the largest vendor in the run with a team of two traditional Simmentals and 11 Black Simmentals which all sold for an average of $6577.
Its team of 11 Black Simmentals averaged $6955 and topped at $8500.
Taking the $8500 top-priced honours in the Bullock Hills run were black, polled bulls Bullock Hills Percy P005 (P) (ET) and Bullock Hills Presley P93 (P) when they were both knocked down to return buyer Ross Manning, RH & SJ Manning, Busselton.
Percy is an ET-bred homozygous polled son of Hooks Yellowstone 97Y with a low birthweight of -1.6 (top 15pc), while Presley is a son of Bonnydale Tanker L36 with well above average growth.
Ludlow Grazing, Tutunup, buying with the assistance of Elders Capel representative Rob Gibbings was also a strong supporter of the Bullock Hills Black Simmentals paying $7500 and $6500 for Bonnydale Tanker L36 sons which weighed 954kg and 872kg.
Three other Black Simmental bulls made good money in the Bullock Hills team with Yourdaming Grazing, Collie and Elders South West livestock manager Michael Carroll both bidding to $7500 for Bonnydale Tank L36 sons, while A Pittassi, Albany, bidding through Elders Albany representative David Lindberg paid $7000 for Bullock Hills Cowboy P27, which the stud was donating 50pc of its sale proceeds in to Kristen's Quest which is raising money for the Perkins Institute of Medical Research.
As part of its Black Simmental team the stud offered three yearling bulls and two of these were secured by the Lee Steere family, Wingalup Grazing Co, Boyup Brook.
They paid $7000 and $4000 for yearling bulls by Bullock Hills Cowboy M5 and Bonnydale Nukara respectively.
The stud's third black yearling sold at $7000 to the Woonallee Simmental stud, Millicent, South Australia, which bid over the phone through Nutrien Livestock regional manager Leon Giglia.
The 672kg homozygous polled bull, Bullock Hills Qantas Q10 (P), is by Bonnydale Nukara and it ranks in the top 10pc of the breed for EMA (+4.5).
When it came to its traditional offering Bullock Hills presented two yearling bulls both by Bullock Hills Dodge dropped in February 2019.
Elders stud stock representative Russell McKay bid to $5000 on behalf of PL & AM Bell, Esperance, for a sire which was in the top 5pc of the breed for 200 and 600-day weights, while Sandlewood Farms, Harvey, picked up the other sire which ranks in the top 15pc for 200 and 600-day weights for $4000.
The Kitchen family's Bandeeka stud, Boyanup, returned to the sale this year with an offering of eight traditional sires and sold six under the hammer to a top of $8000 and an average of $5583.
Recording the top price in the Bandeeka run was Bandeeka Pebbles P046 (P) when it was sold to return buyer Tom Marshall, TG Marshall, Cranbrook.
Pebbles, a son of Bullock Hills Kansas, ranks in the top 25pc of the breed for 200 and 400-day weights and top 15pc for 600-day weight.
Mr Marshall also paid $5000 for a dark cherry red Bandeeka Fancypants son which expressed growth and performance.
Other better prices in the Bandeeka offering were $6500 paid by Hyde Park Grazing for a Woonallee Jetstream son and $6000 paid by BJ & FH Tomas, Nannup, for a Willandra Kimba son.
The line-up of Hereford and Poll Hereford bulls were third into the ring with four vendors offering 20 bulls.
At the end of selling, 14 (70pc) of these were sold to average $6393, up by $805 on average compared to last year's sale where 17 of 24 bulls (71pc) sold at auction to average $5588.
The Yallaroo stud enjoyed a total clearance of its team of 10 bulls for a healthy average of $7250, the third highest individual stud average.
After pushing Mr Wedge all the way on the top-priced bull, long-time Yallaroo stud supporter Matt Della Gola, Tonebridge Grazing, Tonebridge, ended up finishing the sale with four Yallaroo bulls to his account to be the sale's volume buyer.
Mr Della Gola paid from $4500 to a $6500 top price with the top bid reserved for a polled late March 2018-drop son of Cascade Eldorado E27.
He said his family had been buying from the Yallaroo stud for more than 15 years because what you see is what you get.
"All the hard work is done for you as the stud has more than 60 years breeding behind it," Mr Della Gola said.
"I was really chasing the new genetics on offer in the team to freshen up our genetics.
"I missed out on the top-priced bull which was by Yarram Unique F181, but we did get a half brother as part of our team, which I was pleased about.
"In the past we have focused on horned bulls from Yallaroo but I was also chasing poll genetics this year as we believe the stud's polled bulls are of the same standard as its horned sires.
"Rob will not use a poll bull in his breeding program if it is not as good as a horned bull."
Mr Della Gola said they normally only purchased a couple of bulls but this year decided to buy a few more as they had had a clean out of their older bulls.
"I thought it was a good time to jump in and buy numbers as the values are very good and given where the market is heading we could be paying a lot more next year," he said.
The Della Gola family will use bulls in their herd of 350 pure Hereford breeders which run alongside 200 Shorthorn breeders and 400 Angus breeders.
They sell all their calves at 8-10mo following a full weaning program to Kerrigan Valley Grainfed Beef and 90 per cent of their calves go into the feedlot's premium longfed brand which is supplied to Top Cut Foods.
Mr Cooper bid strongly on his Yallaroo selections, paying $8500 and $7500 for two polled bulls on behalf of return buyer Forrest View Grazing, Dinninup, which runs 450 purebred Poll Hereford breeders.
He bid to $8500 for an Eldorado son which weighed in at 905kg and had scans of 121cm2 EMA, 5.9pc IMF and 12mm for rib and P8 fat.
His other purchase at $7500 was a South Bukalong Shannon 40 son that had a weight of 956kg to go with growth figures of +43, +70 and +97 for 200, 400 and 600-day weights.
Mr Cooper said he was chasing a few different bloodlines for the herd and the bulls had to be good growthy sires and pure polls.
Witchcliffe operation J, L & S Brooks, outlaid $6500 for a new polled Yallaroo bull by Shannon 40.
John House, House Poll Hereford stud, Dardanup, sold half of his team of eight bulls under the hammer for a $4250 average.
Local House stud buyer Don Partridge, Dardanup, paid the stud's $5000 top price for its second bull into the sale ring, a mid-April 2018-drop son of Elite Revolution H149 and out of a Mount Difficult Advisor daughter.
The below average birthweight and calving ease bull (top 20pc) still ranked highly for growth in the top quarter, top 5pc EMA, top 10pc CW and IMF, positive fats (top 5pc) and top 10pc for all indexes.
Mr Cooper continued his support of the breed, snapping up three House Poll Hereford bulls for $4000 each again for Forrest View Grazing.
This year four studs combined to offer 11 Murray Grey bulls in the sale and they experienced mixed results, with five selling under the hammer for an average of $4600, which was up $308 on last year's average.
In last year's fixture three breeders sold six from 10 bulls offered at a $4292 average.
Topping the run of Murray Grey bulls to sell at $6000 was the silver Venturon Passport P7 offered by the Thompson family's Venturon stud, Boyup Brook.
Securing the bull at the $6000 price tag was Mr Mosca, who was bidding on behalf of Robert and Angus Love, E Love & Son, Mundijong, who run about 110 Murray Grey breeders.
Mr Mosca said Passport was a well-structured and muscled bull that was even all over.
"He was purchased to use over heifers," Mr Mosca said.
The 750kg, low birthweight bull is a son of Rouchelle King of Hearts.
It ranks in the top 20pc of the breed for birthweight with an EBV of +2.3.
Buying through Mr Abbs the Lee Steere family, Wingalup Grazing Co, Boyup Brook, also bid up strongly on the Venturon run paying $5000 for another low birthweight Rouchelle King of Hearts son which weighed 800kg.
Venturon achieved a full clearance of the three bulls offered when it sold a third bull at $4000 to RH Norman & Son, Busselton.
The Manjimup-based Nangara stud presented five bulls in the offering and cleared two under the hammer, both at $4000.
The two bulls were both knocked down to Elders South West livestock manager Michael Carroll.
Mr Carroll purchased a 775kg Monterey Kosciusko K101 son which is above average for growth with figures of +25, +43 and +57 for 200, 400 and 600-day growth and a 799kg AJ's Josh son with growth figures of +28, +50 and +75 for 200, 400 and 600-day weights.
Next up was the Angus breed with two vendors posting a total clearance of the combined seven bulls to average an impressive $7143 and claim the sale's highest breed average.
This was significantly up by $2500 on last year's sale where four breeders sold seven of 14 bulls for an average of $4643.
Achieving the Angus breed's $11,500 top-priced honours was young Angus enthusiasts Denby and Jorja Young, Islay stud, Narrogin, represented by their grandfather John Young, formerly of the Strathtay stud.
The 998kg bull, Islay The Piper P10 was purchased by the Phillips family, Kanangra Grazing, Manjimup.
The AI-bred mid-June 2018-born bull was by United States sire Baldridge Command C036 and out of a Millah Murrah Equator D78 daughter Islay Tango L20.
The Piper matched its outstanding Breedplan performance with its impressive physical presence with the Islay stud equally envious of the bull, selling a three quarter share and possession.
It ranked in the breed's top 1pc for 600-day growth and retail beef yield (RBY), top 2pc carcase weight (CW), top 3pc for 200 and 400-day weight and top 8pc docility.
The Phillips family also secured the previous Islay bull, another powerful high ranking 1000kg bull by Baldridge Command and out of an Aberdeen Estate Facilitator daughter.
The other two Islay bulls both sold easily for $6000 to Rim Rock Grazing Co, Boyup Brook and DV Piscioneri, Donnybrook, which helped the stud record an extremely strong average of $7875 for the four bulls sold.
The Thompson family Venturon Angus stud, Boyup Brook, averaged $6167 for their team of three bulls.
The Phillips family returned to the clerking sheets paying $7000 twice for two Venturon bulls which were both sons of Diamond Tree Tour Of M177 (by RB Tour Of Duty 177) and out of Diamond Tree Double Vision dams.
Buyer Lyndsay Phillips said they were trying to support the smaller Angus studs coming through as part of their sire requirements for the operation's 900-head Angus female breeding herd.
"They are very powerful looking Angus bulls with good structures, backlines and temperament," Ms Phillips said.
"We join all our heifers to Wagyu bulls and these Angus bulls will be joined to the second calvers and mature cows.
"We are a self-replacing herd so we will be retaining females from these bulls."
The Phillips family calves from March with the steer and surplus heifer calves weaned and sold to lotfeeders from December to February when a truckload can be filled.
The Jellicoe family's Jutland Park Red Angus stud, Serpentine, rounded out the sale with a team of four Red Angus bulls which found the going tougher.
They managed to sell their team leader Jutland Nelson to Dansinup Grazing Co, Dunsborough, for $4000.
Nelson was an AI-bred early March born three-year-old bull by Milwillah Marble Bar J53 and out of a Red Six Mile Sakic 832S daughter and was used over Jutland Park's heifers last year.