THE 58th annual Lewisdale ram sale was one for the ages in a mammoth, record-breaking result at 'Stud Park' Wickepin on Saturday.
Following the stud's 70th birthday last year, celebrations continued into its 71st year with one of the country's strongest ram sales likely to be seen this spring selling season.
After a three-hour sale marathon, the total clearance of 250 dual purpose Poll Merino rams at auction for a gross of $645,400 set a new stud record sale average of $2582 under the control of selling agents Dyson Jones and AWN Livestock.
Compared to last year's sale the number of rams offered and sold jumped 30 rams, while the average spiked $233.
Last year's sale saw a complete clearance of 220 rams for a $2349 average.
Broken down, AWN Livestock auctioneer Don Morgan sold six full-wool, four-tooth stud rams for a $5582 average, up $383 on last year's sale where five rams of the same description averaged $5200, while the line-up of 19 March-shorn, four-tooth stud rams averaged $3184, back $191 on last year where 20 rams averaged $3375.
The extensive catalogue of 225 March shorn, two-tooth rams sold for an impressive average of $2451, a rise of $436 from last year where 171 rams sold for an average of $2015.
The offering of six full wool stud rams got the sale underway with long-time Lewisdale client of 39 years Steve Fowler, Jumbuk Plains, Esperance, heading the charge with his six new nucleus sires including four August shorn and two March shorn stud rams and the sale's two top prices of $9000 and $7000.
The top price went to the sale team leader by sire G257, a 151 kilogram ram measuring 21.1 micron and 99.3 per cent comfort factor (CF), while the following lot, a 147kg ram by Seymour Park 23 testing 20.7 micron and 99.4pc CF, sold for $7000.
Mr Fowler said the two top rams were selected for their wool and size and would go to the collection centre for use in AI programs at Lewisdale before heading south to Esperance.
"Well nourished, long stapled white wool on big barrel deep frames," Mr Fowler said.
"Three of our new March shorn rams have also been used in the Lewisdale stud which is encouraging."
The Fowlers will mate a total of 16,000 Merino ewes on December 12 which includes a nucleus of 600 ewes made up of the 100 best ewe hoggets selected from 5000 young ewes.
Another long-time Lewisdale supporter since the 1970s, Joe Della Vedova, JLW & C Della Vedova, Condingup, was the sale's most influential buyer by a fair stretch.
Mr Della Vedova amassed a team of 57 rams, costing all values between $2000 and a $4500 top price outlaid for a 144kg full wool stud ram in lot five by G5, testing 19.6 micron and 99.1pc CF.
He is a strong advocate of the dual purpose traits of Lewisdale breeding which he said provided superior returns to his sheep enterprise and would join 12,500 Lewisdale blood ewes to Lewisdale Merino rams this coming joining later in the year.
New buyer Martindale Pty Ltd, New Norcia, added two new Lewisdale March shorn stud rams to their nucleus breeding program.
They paid the sale's next highest price of $5300 for the team leading March shorn stud ram, a 127kg son of B536 testing 20.3 micron and 99.9pc CF followed up with a $5100 bid for the 127kg B26 son in lot 19, displaying tests of 21.1 micron and 99.5pc CF.
Another long-time buyer AH Chisholm & Co, Needilup, secured eight new rams paying from $2300 to a $4000 top price for a 126kg stud March shorn ram by B537 testing 19.4 micron and 99.7pc CF.
But it was the long list of buyers that put together significant teams of rams that underpinned the strength of the sale.
Brothers Don and Bill Handscombe, W & M Handscombe, Quairading, have been buying rams at Lewisdale for the past seven years and paid from $2000 to $2500 for 25 rams to refresh their ram battery to cover their 3700 breeding ewes.
Andrew Kitto, Dyson Jones,Wickepin/Newdegate, was kept busy throughout the sale with a couple of orders to fill and finished with 20 rams costing from $2000 to $2700 for return interstate buyers Rejall Park, Miga Lake, Victoria and five rams on behalf of M & A Latham, Narembeen.
Long-time Lewisdale buyers of 36 years the Dean family, Sancta Monica Farms, Tardun, again collected a haul of 16 rams for a healthy average just shy of $2938 with their $3600 top price paid for lot 52 containing a 119kg ram with tests of 19.8 micron and 99.7pc CF.
Loyal Lewisdale clients for at least 45 years the Della Vedova family, Kumbooran Plains, Mt Walker, were also prepared to bid up on their selections and paid a strong average of $2800 for 13 rams.
Morilla Downs, Jerra- mungup, also sourced 13 rams costing from $2000 to $2500.
Other double figured accounts were return buyers LJ & CJ Tyson, Kulin, who tallied 12 rams, Milanna Farms, Mt Walker and Lewisdale stud representative of 54 years John Sherlock buying for John Sewell Family Trust, Geraldton, secured 11 rams each and one of the stud's longest serving clients of 58 years DP Dunbar & Co, Southern Cross, finished the sale with 10 rams.