RUTHERGLEN studmaster Whippy Dawes was all smiles, even loading recalcitrant rams, after the Yealering Merino and Poll Merino stud's successful 56th annual ram sale on September 28,
He and founder of Rutherglen stud in 1952, his father Bill 'Buster' Dawes who is about to celebrate his 92nd birthday, had penned one less ram than last year, but sold 17 more last week at their annual sale at the Narrogin ram shed.
The combined sale average of $1250 - $1196 average for Merino rams and $1495 for Polls - was $170 better than last year's and, at $146,200 gross, this year's sale brought in an extra $38,200.
Rutherglen's top line buyers since 1988, Greg Doyle and son Ben, Wylivere Farms, Corrigin, were back again registered as buyer one and with the singular objective of buying just one Merino ram.
As usual, only the best of the May-June 2020-drop, May 2021-shorn rams would do and they found it in pen 11, paying top sale price of $3100 for the ram with very stylish, well-crimped 16.4 micron, 100 per cent comfort factor (CF) wool and plenty of it.
The Doyles add a Rutherglen ram and a couple from another stud to their select team each year and maintain a 350-400 nucleus Merino ewe flock from which they breed their own rams for a commercial flock that starts off about 5000 head each year before culling in March after pregnancy testing.
The Dawes and Doyles also have family friendship connections.
"My mum grew up next door (to Rutherglen stud) and was in (Buster's wife) Olivia's bridal party and that sort of thing," Greg Doyle said.
"We bought our first one (Rutherglen ram) in 1988 - in those days we weren't breeding our own rams, but we have been for probably the last 25 years.
"We love the (Rutherglen) wool - that's originally why we went there back in 1988," he said.
"Back then our average micron was 22 and Buster's was 21.
"Now our average is probably 19, the same as his.
"We just aim for as good a size, conformation and wool as we can get.
"As the crow flies we're only about 30 kilometres from Buster anyway, so we know they won't fall over when we get them home."
Buster Dawes was keen to point out his rams are paddock run.
"I'm against shedding sheep, the only time our sheep go in a shed is to be shorn," Mr Dawes said.
"If their wool goes green (with the wet weather) they're no good."
Mr Dawes said the big surprise this year was the amount and quality of wool on the 21 Poll rams offered.
"I'm surprised at the Polls, I've always been against Polls because their wool is usualy not as good (as horned rams), but these have good wool on them and plenty of it."
First-time Rutherglen buyer Laurie Cheney, LG & LJ Cheney, Boddington, obviously thought so too.
Mr Cheney chose carefully and after a bidding battle paid second top sale price of $2900 for the lot 98 Poll ram.
He also bought a second Poll ram at $1300.
IE & EM Teakle & Son, Northampton, apart from being the long-distance buyer, was also the volume buyer for Rutherglen Poll Merinos, with Elders stud stock representative Kevin Broad selecting seven and successfully bidding on their behalf.
Mr Broad bid up to second-top Poll price of $2000 twice to claim the seven at an average price of $1571 for the Teakle family.
Apart from Elders auctioneer Preston Clarke and his penciller Jeff Brown, Elders Narrogin, the busiest man at the sale was probably Mr Broad.
As well as bidding on Polls for the Teakles, he was also bidding for one of three volume buyers, J & D McCuish & Sons, Moora, assembling a team of 10 Merino rams for them at $600 for nine and one at $700.
As in previous years, Mr Broad was also bidding for repeat Rutherglen horns buyer Ray Glasfurd Nominees Pty Ltd, Dandaragan, buying four rams at an average of $775.
Another buyer to take 10 rams, including a Poll, was one of the Rutherglen stud's oldest clients, Burton & Co, Ravensthorpe, which has maintained a two-generation connection stretching back more than 50 years.
Burton & Co's average purchase price of $1370 included a top price of $2100 for a Merino ram and two at $1700.
Third 10-ram buyer was Jamie Cowcher, GB & AT Cowcher, Williams, who bought Merino rams throughout the sale for an average of $1230 and a top of $1900.
Regular Rutherglen Merino buyer Mike Bowman, Shorelands Pastoral Company, Williams, purchased eight rams, to a top of $1900 early before averaging at $1450.
"I've been buying (Rutherglen rams) from Buster for the 17 years I've been with Shorelands and I understand the person before me was buying them for four or five years before that," Mr Bowman said.
Richard Guiness, RJ & CM Guiness, Corrigin, was an active bidder early, buying seven Merino rams at an average of $1714, including three at $2000.
His brother Tony, AM & MA Guiness, Kunjin, went two better with nine to a top of $1600 twice.
The Guiness brothers are Rutherford's oldest clients, having been with the stud for 55 years.
Regular repeat buyer Rod Petchell, WG & EM Petchell, Williams, purchased the second top-priced Merino ram at $2200 - it had 16.1 micron fleece with a 99.9pc CF - and another at $1800.
Another buyer chasing top quality was JG & MM Armstrong, Narrogin, who bid to a top of $1900 for three Polls and to $1800 for two Merino rams at an average of $1640.
"It was a good sale all round," said Whippy Dawes.
"Everyone has had a good season, they've got water in their dams and a bit more tucker around the place, so everyone's kept a few more hoggets so they all need a couple more rams."