THE temperature and humidity might have been high at last week's 30th Elders Boyanup Supreme Springing Heifer Sale, but they had nothing on the prices as buyers pushed them to record levels for the fixture.
The confidence of producers in the beef industry after a good 12 months of returns and a much-improved season, was on show for all to see as they pushed prices skywards for the quality first-cross heifers, ensuring the record books will have to be written with a new average figure of $2775 and a top price of $3800.
In the stifling heat, Elders auctioneer Alec Williams powered through the catalogue of 743 heifers in just over two hours and with buyers not afraid to bid up, he had no problems extracting bids from the 67 registered buyers and in the end it was just a case of him counting them up.
From the opening pen it was easy to see the buoyant beef market was front and centre of buyers' minds and as a result by sale's end Mr Williams had cleared all 743 heifers under the hammer to the record $3800 top price and record average of $2775, while the gross figure of $2,061,550 narrowly missed being a record by $34,100.
It was an impressive result and certainly an indication of the confidence in the cattle industry.
The red hot bidding meant this year's average eclipsed the previous record value of $2757 set in 2016 by $18, while the top price was up $250 on the sale's previous best of $3550, also recorded in 2016.
In the 2016 sale there were 760 heifers offered and sold for a gross of $2,095,650.
When compared to last year's sale the average was up $665 and the gross was up 34 per cent or $816,900.
In last year's sale the Elders South West team offered 614 heifers to 45 registered bidders and sold 590 under the hammer for a gross of $1,244,650, an average of $2110 and a top price of $2550 twice.
Elders, South West livestock manager and sale co-ordinator Michael Carroll said with this being their 30th anniversary sale it was great to have such a successful sale.
"With such a large line-up of heifers on offer, there was an outstanding quality of females from start to finish and buyers responded accordingly," Mr Carroll said.
"With a 100pc clearance achieved of 743 PTIC first-cross heifers shows the commitment and confidence both the vendors and buyers have in the breeder market."
Mr Williams was equally happy with the final sale result in the fixture's 30th year.
"Once again the quality and presentation for the sale was outstanding due to the excellent season and this augured well for the day, in the sale's 30th year," Mr Williams said.
"Vendors should be commended on the offering and their commitment and patronage over the sale's 30 years.
"There were a lot of vendors still offering quality females in this sale that were involved in the first sale.
"The sale itself reflected the quality line-up and we saw solid returns right throughout the catalogue.
"There was good buying support from areas north of Bunbury, locally, east to Williams and increased support from the South Coast due to better seasonal conditions.
"Elders would like to thank past and present buyers for their support over the years with many return buyers, some of which have been attending for that period mentioned too."
With good trade-in prices for cull cows and excellent vealer returns this year, it was understandable buyers weren't afraid to bid up above the $3000 mark and as a result 30 of the 101 pens offered sold for $3000 or more.
In the end it was a pen of Murray Grey-Friesian heifers from one of the sale's original vendors the Roberts family, KS & EN Roberts & Son, Elgin, which claimed top price honours late in the sale when it sold for the record $3800.
Mr Williams initially took an opening bid of $2800 on the pen of eight soft, roomy heifers and it wasn't long before it became a race in two between repeat buyers of the Roberts' grey heifers.
Finally after some serious back and forth it was Rick Weight, FH Weight & Co, Youngs Siding, who prevailed and was written in as the buyer on the clerking sheets.
Mr Weight and his wife Helen have been regular top price buyers of grey heifers from the Roberts family for a number of years and returned this year to buy strongly after not buying for the past two years due to tough seasons.
Mr Weight said they regularly bought the top lines from the Roberts family and have always been happy with the results they achieved.
"They are quiet, quality, roomy heifers," Mr Weight said.
"They are nice solid heifers and always milk well."
The Weights, who also run wool and hay enterprises alongside their beef operation, run 110 Murray Grey cross breeders which are joined to Limousin sires for a February to April calving.
Mr Weight said they aimed to sell their calves in the weaner sales at the Mount Barker Regional Saleyards in January.
Along with buying the day's top-priced pen, Mr Weight also purchased a second pen of eight Murray Grey-Friesian heifers from the Roberts family at $3300.
Both pens of heifers had been synchronised AI-mated to a proven Limousin sire Unison Gong G31 and are due to calve from January 20 to February 9 (20 days).
The sale opened with the large run of 664 Angus-Friesian heifers and these made up 89pc of the yarding.
By the end of the run all 664 had sold under the hammer to 44 different buyers to a top of $3350 twice, an average of $2751 and a gross of more than $1.8 million.
This meant the average for the Angus-Friesian line-up was up $643 on last year when vendors offered 510 heifers and sold 486 to a top of $2550 and an average of $2108.
Two vendors shared top-price honours in this section - one has been selling in the sale since its inception, while the other has only just started to appear on the vendors' list.
The first pen to make $3350 in the run was sold by long term vendors the Milner family, Milners Farm, Busselton, who had previously traded as AJ Milner.
Brett Milner, who was at the sale with his father Jim, who sold heifers when the sale was at Busselton and son Liam, said it was fitting to have such a successful sale selling under their new trading name.
The Milners, who milk 180 cows, averaged $3037 a head for the 34 heifers they sold.
"We are very happy with our result today, I can remember the days when we used to sell these type of heifers for $750 a head," Mr Milner said.
The Milner's top-priced pen which contained eight sleek, roomy, owner-bred heifers was purchased by Mick and Gary Terrigno, Alba Rosa Trading, Jardee, who were chasing owner-bred lines.
Mick Terrigno said they were chasing the Milner's heifers as they had purchased them last year and they had got good results from them.
"They are very good in the paddock," Mr Terrigno said.
The Terrigno family didn't just purchase the Milner's top-priced pen they also purchased a pen of nine from them at $2850.
Both pens were sired by Blackrock Angus bulls and back in calf to Blackrock bulls.
They are due to calve for 12 weeks from January 21 to April 15.
The Jardee-based operation runs 100 Angus-Friesian breeders which they join to traditional Simmental bulls for a January calving.
Gary Terrigno said they had already sold 95 per cent of their calves this year direct to Woolworths.
"Our first line went at the end of October," Mr Terrigno said.
"We have got them out a bit earlier than normal due to the season."
The other pen of Angus-Friesian heifers to sell at $3350 were sold in the sale by Darren and Sharon Merritt, Elgin Dairies, Elgin, who have only been selling in the sale for the past few years.
Mr Williams said the Merritts in the main previously sold the first-cross heifers from their dairy operation where they milked 730 cows as unmated heifers.
"The heifers they offered in the sale were bred from very good genetics, not only from the dairy females but they were sired by Carenda and Black Market Angus bulls," Mr Williams said.
Taking home the Merritt's $3350 pen was Don Terrigno, Jardee Grazing, Manjimup, who has been a regular buyer at the sale since its inception.
Mr Terrigno said it was the first time he had purchased from Elgin Dairies.
"I was chasing owner-bred heifers and these fitted the bill," Mr Terrigno said.
"They are big roomy heifers and are from a top dairy herd, so I think they will do well."
The pen of seven black beauties were AI-mated to Angus sire Rennylea Kodak K522 and backed up in the paddock by Angus bulls.
The line is due to calve over a five-week period between January 21 to February 25.
The Manjimup-based operation runs 150 breeders, which includes 110 that are Angus-Friesians and all are joined to Nu-Plains Simmental bulls for calving starting in January.
The operation sells all its calves as vealers to Woolworths and already this year has sold 100 head.
The first line they sold averaged 270 kilograms dressed.
The second highest price in the Angus-Friesian run was $3300 bid by the Dunnet family, OM Dunnet & Co, Nannup, purchasing four pens of Angus-Friesian heifers totalling 32 head.
They paid $3300 for a pen of eight heifers from Milners Farm, which are PTIC to a Blackrock Angus bull and are due to calve from January 21 to April 15.
The Dunnets also bid to $3250 for eight Angus heifers from the Roberts family which were synchronised AI-mated to Unison Gong G31 and have a 20-day calving from January 20 and $3000 for eight heifers, which are due to drop calves sired by Unison Limousin sires from February 1 for 11 weeks, from original sale vendors Keith and Alison Jilley, KL & AJ Jilley, Boyanup.
But it wasn't only the Dunnets that took a liking to the Angus heifers on offer from the Roberts family.
Nannup-based operation Tirano Farms purchased two pens of eight of the Roberts' synchronised AI-mated heifers, paying $3100 and $3050 for the pens to go with eight heifers that were in calf to Angus sires from LM & EA Crouch, Nannup, at $3000.
Volume buyers in the Angus-Friesian run were the Tomas family, BJ & FH Tomas, Cundinup, who purchased eight pens totalling 64 head for between $2700 and $3000.
The Tomas family paid $3000 twice and on both occasions it was for a pen of eight heifers, from the Roberts family, which had been synchronised AI-mated to Unison Gong G31.
It also purchased three pens, all containing eight heifers at $2900, $2800 and $2700 from Candyup Farms, Benger.
The three pens from Candyup Farms were synchronised AI-mated to polled black Limousin bull Shannalea Prime Time P2 and are due to calve for 20 days starting January 23.
The Tomas family purchases also included two pens of eight heifers, which were joined to Angus sires, from LM & EA Crouch.
Other buyers to purchase strongly at the start of the sale were J & Y Dimitriou, Manjimup and Nutrien Livestock, Boyup Brook agent Jamie Abbs.
The Manjimup operation paid $3100 for six Candyup Farms' heifers and $3050 for eight heifers from the Roberts.
Both lines have a 20-day calving period after being synchronised AI-mated.
Mr Abbs purchased three pens from KL & AJ Jilley at $3000 and $2900 (twice).
All three pens contained eight heifers that are in calf to Unison Limousin sires and are due to calve from February 1 for 11 weeks.
Other buyers not afraid to bid up included OB & A Procopio & Sons, Nannup, which paid $3000 and $2900 for two pens of eight heifers from the Roberts family which were synchronised AI-mated, while G & JM Perrella, Northcliffe, bid to $2950 for six heifers and $3000 for eight heifers which were all synchronsied AI-mated from Candyup Farms.
But it wasn't only the buyers at the top end which made the sale, there were also a number of buyers that supported it strongly buying numbers.
Among these was regular buyer G & TJ Ross & Co, Denmark, which secured five pens (38 head) for between $2550 and $2700.
Included in the Ross family's purchases were two pens from the Jilley family at $2700 (eight head) and $2800 (six) and two pens of eight from AD & RM Corker, Capel, at $2650 and $2550.
There were three buyers to buy four pens each and these included PP & B Smith, Busselton, which picked up eight synchronised AI-mated heifers from Candyup Farms at $2800, along with two pens of nine owner-bred heifers from RC & CD Barbetti & Sons, Waterloo, at $2700 and $2600.
Manjimup operation Dehaan & Son, picked up four pens from $2450 to $2650, while CA Vinci, Beelerup, selected four pens from $2300 to $2650.
Vendors of 27 years Bernard and Roma Ridley, BW & RB Ridley, Brunswick, were again on the sellers' list this year with a line-up of 63 Angus-Friesian heifers which had been joined to Sheron Farm Angus bulls and are due to calve for 10 weeks from February 4.
The Ridley's line-up topped at $2900 when they sold a pen of eight to Charles Brockman, DV Brockman & Co, Cowaramup, who purchased three Angus-Friesian pens in total.
There were two new sale vendors represented - KL Smeathers, Northcliffe, which offered 23 heifers joined to Angus bulls saw a top of $2650 for a pen of eight which sold to G & TJ Ross & Co, while Michael and Sophia Giumelli, JP Giumelli & Son, Ferguson Valley, sold 20 owner-bred heifers to a top of $2400 paid by Gembrook Beef, Nannup, for a pen of four.
The four pens of Hereford-Friesian heifers all from the Roberts family were next into the ring and like the Angus-Friesian heifers, they attracted strong bidding.
By the end of the run all 18 heifers offered had found new homes to a top of $3000 twice and an average of $2961, which was up $814 on last year.
The Dunnet family picked up three of the pens, including the two which sold at $3000.
They paid the value for a pen of eight black and whites which showed plenty of volume and softness and the same value for two red and white heifers with size and softness.
The Dunnets also bid $2900 for a pen of eight black and white heifers.
All three lines the Dunnets purchased have a 20-day calving period starting January 20 after being synchronised AI-mated to Unison Gong G31.
The fourth and final pen in the run which contained two heifers from the Roberts which were naturally joined and due to calve from February 10 to March 31 were purchased at $2950 by J & Y Dimitriou.
The Murray Grey-Friesian line-up wasn't only home to the eight record breaking $3800 top-priced heifers, but another 27 grey heifers.
All up 36 Murray Grey-Friesian heifers were offered and sold by the Roberts family and the extreme competition resulted in them achieving a breed average of $3322, which was the best of any breed.
In last year's sale 31 Murray Grey-Friesian heifers were offered and sold for an average of $2194, meaning this year's average was up $1128.
But it wasn't only the sale's $3800 top-priced pen which was found in the run as previously mentioned , so was the sale's $3400 second top-priced pen.
The pen of seven heifers, which had also been synchronised AI-mated to Unison Gong G31 and have a 20-day calving starting January 20, were purchased by Nutrien Livestock, Donnybrook representative Dean Taaffe for a buyer who has had the Roberts grey heifers in the past.
The Dunnets, after purchasing Angus-Friesian and Hereford-Friesian heifers, also picked seven Murray Grey-Friesian heifers which had been synchronised AI-mated at $3000, while Glencorrie Farms, Bunbury, bid to $3000 for eight which were naturally joined to a Limousin sire and have a seven week calving starting February 10.
Murray Grey-Aussie Red
An offering of 25 Murray Grey-Aussie Red heifers from LM & EA Crouch rounded out the sale.
The line-up all sold to a top of $2750 and an average of $2490, which was up $618 on last year's sale.
All the heifers in the run had been joined to Gandy and Diamond Tree Angus sires and are due to calve from February 2 for 12 weeks.The $2750 top-priced pen consisted of five heifers and it was purchased by Eric Busby, EW & ME Busby, Nillup, who also purchased a second pen of eight at $2650.
The two other pens of six offered sold at $2300 to BR & DR Marsh, Warner Glen and at $2250 to RJ Logie, Williams, who had earlier purchased two pens of Angus-Friesian heifers.