UltraWhite ram sells to record $51,500

UltraWhite ram sells to record $51,500

Studstock
Kneeling with the record breaking $51,500 UltraWhite ram is Hillcroft Farms co-principal Dawson Bradford, which was purchased with the assistance of Elders Narrogin livestock agent Paul Keppel, (left), and bought by Kingslane UltraWhite stud manager Geoff Hillman, Benger. With them is the Bradford family, Greta, Jack, Dawson, Michael, Lisa and Chelsea, and Nutrien regional key account manager and auctioneer Steve Wright.

Kneeling with the record breaking $51,500 UltraWhite ram is Hillcroft Farms co-principal Dawson Bradford, which was purchased with the assistance of Elders Narrogin livestock agent Paul Keppel, (left), and bought by Kingslane UltraWhite stud manager Geoff Hillman, Benger. With them is the Bradford family, Greta, Jack, Dawson, Michael, Lisa and Chelsea, and Nutrien regional key account manager and auctioneer Steve Wright.

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The air crackled with anticipation and a hush descended over the Hillcroft Farms crowd as they sensed the gravity of the occasion, when prices steadily increased by tens of thousands of dollars for one very special UltraWhite ram.

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IT was as if you could almost feel history being made.

The air crackled with anticipation and a hush descended over the Hillcroft Farms crowd as they sensed the gravity of the occasion, when prices steadily increased by tens of thousands of dollars for one very special UltraWhite ram.

Like a pivotal match point at Wimbledon, heads silently swivelled back and forth between the AuctionsPlus bidding screen and Geoff Hillman, Kingslane UltraWhite, Benger, as Nutrien Ag Solutions regional key account manager and auctioneer Steve Wright conducted an extended bidding match between the two.

Ultimately it was Mr Hillman who placed the record breaking $51,500 final bid to secure the UltraWhite sire, a final knock of the hammer sealed with a round of applause.

It was the sweet cherry perched on top of a hugely successful 42nd annual production sale for the Bradford family's Hillcroft Farms UltraWhites, Popanyinning, who offered a total of 850 UltraWhite commercial and stud ewes and rams, selling 843 under the hammer to gross $1,705,300 and average $2023 across the entire offering.

The vision and foresight of sheep-meat industry trailblazer Dawson Bradford (senior) to develop the UltraWhite breed, using a combination of the best Poll Dorset and Dorper genetics available in 2005, has prospered exponentially in the 16 years since, now enjoying nationwide success and recognition.

This success was also backed by the recent Tattykeel Australian Whites sale in New South Wales, which set an Australian all breeds meat sheep record price of $165,000.

Such a statistic perhaps encouraged the 70 registered buyers nationwide to push prices to a State-record-breaking top price of $51,500 for a stud prime lamb ram, in addition to commercial ewe prices reaching a State record price of $1030.

When the four-hour selling spree came to an end, the Nutrien livestock selling team had sold 500 commercial ewes, 100 stud ewes and 243 stud rams at a sale gross exceeding $1.7 million, the highest-grossing sale Nutrien has ever conducted in WA.

Once again, this year the sale was interfaced on AuctionsPlus which was influential throughout, with a notable 156 registered bidders online from NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and Western Australia.

With 4778 catalogue online views, it was no surprise that 137 lots were purchased online to a top price of $11,000, resulting in 2211 online bids being placed across the 277 active lots out of the 353 offered.

By the end of the sale, it was clear to everyone present in the shed that they had witnessed something special, and the enormous demand for the non-shearing, low maintenance breed could have quite possibly started a revolution within the whole sheep industry, considering the current shortage of shearers.

Nutrien Livestock auctioneer Steve Wright said the Hillcroft Farms production sale was an absolute bolter, with an outstanding result for the Bradford family and the UltraWhite breed.

"Dawson's vision and foresight has developed this breed and stud to the level of success it enjoyed today," Mr Wright said.

"That was reflected in the amount of interest generated nationally and the huge number of buyers registering locally and on AuctionsPlus.

"The support he gets is second to none.

"The $51,500 top price ram was a highlight, but for stud ewes to have the highest average of $4016 and commercial ewes to sell for $1030, it's absolutely outstanding."

Nutrien Livestock Breeding representative Roy Addis said the overall quality was outstanding from the commercial ewes through to the stud ewes and flock rams.

"There was strong support across all sectors of the industry, with the well-figured, great-structured sheep carrying all the attributes and qualities producers were looking for in their prime lamb operations," Mr Addis said.

"The highlight of the sale for me was the unmated commercial ewes and what producers were prepared to pay for them.

"This commercial impact really backs the UltraWhite breed and where the industry is moving for quality, shedding sheep.

"The UltraWhites offer a quality carcase, magnificent eating qualities and are clearly getting results with many return clients backing the product, which is most important."

UltraWhite stud rams

The UltraWhite rams followed the strong ewe component of the sale, with demand never wavering as 243 of the 250 strong ram catalogue was purchased under the hammer, grossing $864,700 and averaging $3558.

The sale top of $51,500 was paid for the fourth ram on offer in lot 104, by Kingslane UltraWhite stud manager Geoff Hillman, Benger.

An April 2020 drop sire, tag number 207109T, became a clear favourite with buyers, with favourable estimated breeding values (EBVs) to complement the impressive physical and structural soundness it presented.

The ram's figures included a low birthweight (BWT) of 0.09 and a weaning weight (WWT) of 8.4, while at six months of age it recorded a 13.6 post weaning weight (PWWT), a positive post weaning fat (PFAT) of 1.1 and a post weaning eye muscle depth (PEMD) of 2.

A new index for terminal sires, known as the Terminal Carcase Production (TCP) Index, was also listed, combining major production traits and customer satisfaction traits such as eating quality, tenderness and marbling to give an overall breeding value.

The top priced ram had a TCP Index of 143.7 and was one of the many reasons Mr Hillman was so keen to secure it.

Despite the Kingslane stud still being in its infancy after it was founded in 2020, Mr Hillman was more than motivated to continue to invest in top quality genetics, having already purchased the $18,000 top price ram at last year's Hillcroft Farms on property sale.

This $51,500 top-priced ram was from the same bloodline as that initial ram, both of which were sired by 187020, as was the only other purchase Mr Hillman made this year, for which he paid the second top price of the sale at $15,200.

"We were chasing that 187020 bloodline again, as it's bred well for Dawson and also for us so far," Mr Hillman said.

"We have our first lot of April/May drop lambs on the ground from last year's top price ram and we are very excited about what we are already seeing.

"This ram will be used as a stud sire over some of our 300 stud ewes to help build our numbers.

"He had positive fat, a great TCP index and was structurally sound, and we think he will do very good things for our stud.

"The UltraWhite breed is a no shearing and easy care breed, and we see value and a future in that, which is why we are investing in top genetics."

Other buyers paying notable prices included an AuctionsPlus bidder from Ariah Park, NSW, who was active in the ewe section and purchased 13 females before purchasing a chaperone ram for the trip east at $11,000.

Nutrien Ag Solutions, Ouyen, Victoria, also used the online format to purchase 12 females before paying $10,200 and $4200 for two rams, while an online client from Narembeen became a volume buyer after purchasing 13 rams for a top of $3800, averaging $2508.

Australian Food Farming, Pingrup, took home 15 sires for a top of $2800 and $2253 average and TKW Leeson, Wickepin, paid an average of $2182 and a top of $2600 to purchase 11 rams.

Marwonga Nominees, Popanyinning, purchased nine rams, while Timaru Farming, Davina Enterprises, Wongan Hills and Bowey Enterprises, Kulin, all bought seven rams each.

UltraWhite stud ewes

Buyers were waiting eagerly on AuctionsPlus to secure stud genetics that best suited their needs, but phone bidders Troy and Nette Fischer, Ashmore White Suffolk stud, Woolsheds, SA, stood their ground to purchase the days $8200 top-price stud ewe in lot 14.

With the help of Nutrien's WA commercial sheep manager Tom Bowen, the Fischer's secured the twin born August 2020-born lamb sired by Hillcroft Farms 197340 which had ASBVs of 0.02 BW, 8 WWT, 12.7 PWWT, 0.4 PFAT, 2.8 PEMD and a TCP Index of 140.

Mr Fischer said his family had been closely watching the shedding breed for several years and had noticed the growing interest in them around the country.

"We have been running a White Suffolk stud for 30 years but the structure, performance and easy-care traits of the UltraWhites drew us over to Hillcroft Farms program which resulted in us making a conscious decision to venture into another breed of sheep," he said.

"We flew over to assess all the stud ewes a week before the sale as we wanted to make sure we were purchasing the very best we could.

"We selected those with great structure and balance to kick start the foundation of our UltraWhite stud."

Founded on performance recording and a huge point of difference of not needing to shear, crutch or tail dock lambs, the Fischers are very excited to begin their venture into UltraWhites.

During the auction they purchased another eight ewes bringing their complete average for nine head to an impressive $5022.

"We plan to do an embryo transfer program with the young ewes and purchases semen from a few specially selected sires at Hillcroft Farms," he said.

"This will fast-track our breeding program by giving us the diversity of genetics in our opening year."

With an online bid of $8000, producers from Wakool, NSW, bought the second top-priced ewe which was sire by Hillcroft Farms 197468 and had figures of

-0.17 BWT, 6.1 WWT, 9.4 PWWT, 0.8 PFAT, 3.6 PEMD and a 145 TCP Index.

The NSW enterprise locked in six ewes during the sale at an average of $5100, while snapping up 13 head at an $3369 average and $3600 top on three occasions was an AuctionsPlus buyer from Kurralea, NSW.

Volume buyers in the stud ewe section of the sale was Leroy Hull, Kattata Well White Suffolk Stud, Streaky Bay, SA, who bid strongly on the AuctionsPlus platform to have 20 head written down on his account.

Mr Hull paid a top of $6400, a healthy $4170 average and said it was the first time he had purchased genetics from Hillcroft Farms.

"The way the industry is going with the shortage of shearers, I've been pushed towards the shedding breed as the demand for them in my area increases," Mr Hull said.

"I did my research and talked to a number of producers that had already purchased Hillcroft Farms genetics which gave me the confidence to expand and introduce the new breed.

"The quiet temperament and easy-care characteristics of the UltraWhites outweighed the other breeds I had been looking at."

Mr Hull also bought one ram at auction for $5200 and looks forward to slowly building up his stud numbers as his client base grows.

Mr Addis didn't let a rare opportunity to buy top quality stud ewes go to waste and was given a buying order for 10 head, paying at a top of $6000 and an average of $4580 for the Funke family, Bundara Downs stud, Mundulla, SA.

Nutrien Ag Solutions Ouyen, also knew worthy traits when it saw it and bought 12 head at a top of $4000 twice and at an average of $3583.

Scaddan based producers GK & CC Harris, got their hands on eight ewes at a top of $4800 and an average of 3825, while also buying eight at a $4050 average was a Kingscote, SA based online operator.

UltraWhite commercial ewes

Strong interest for low maintenance, easy care sheep was prevalent with the 500 commercial ewes offered selling to an average of $878, while their 100 stud ewe counterparts also achieved a complete clearance, topping at $8200 and averaging an eye watering $4016.

The impressive offering of 500 unmated 2020 drop commercial ewes kicked of the day's proceedings and the trend to get hands on sheep expressing plenty of meat, muscle and fertility saw prices reach a $1030 State record high.

Nutrien's Tom Bowen took the record-breaking bid by phone on behalf of Brendon Duncan, Glen Esk Pastoral, Wentworth, NSW, who secured the first pen of 100.

Mr Duncan bought the first line of 100 commercial ewes, scanned empty, and said he works on the theory that you should buy the best you can.

"I have been on Hillcroft Farms bloodlines for seven years, having made the switch from Dorper and White Dorper," Mr Duncan said.

"With current demands through the roof for shedding sheep, I thought it would be a better investment to purchase commercial ewes instead of flock rams this season.

"I have 2000 breeders and sell 600 rams annually to private pastoralists in Queensland, east of New South Wales and the northern parts of South Australia."

With the help from Mr Addis, Andy Hunt, Flohr & Co, Lameroo, SA, bid strongly to make sure the remaining two pens of 400 commercial ewes, also scanned empty, were written down on his account.

Mr Hunt paid $820 for the initial line of 200 head and $860 for the other.

"We have been long-term Merino breeders but have recently sold the majority of the flock and only have our Merino lambs left," Mr Hunt said.

"Input cost in the sheep industry have never been higher, combined with low wool prices and trade tensions in China.

"We feel the introduction of the easy-care UltraWhite breed will work in really well with our cropping operation.

"We had to up our game to secure the last two lines of ewes but we're very excited about starting the new venture.

"We looked into the Australian Whites and Dorper breed but the backing of the LambPlan figures and overall fertility of being able to mate UltraWhites at seven months-of-age, rather than carrying ewe lambs for 18 months, really impressed us as compared to Merinos."

Mr Hunt on behalf of Flohr & Co purchased nine rams during the sale at an average of $3956 and has intentions to steadily increase his UltraWhite breeding flock to 1000-1200 head and market his wether prime lambs as well as his commercially bred ewes backed by Hillcroft Farms genetics.

Hillcroft Farms stud co-principal Dawson Bradford said it was a very good outcome.

"I think today's sale represents the change of thinking in the sheep industry and while quality sheep were in demand, they were secured at a realistic price enabling commercial producers to still make a dollar," Mr Bradford said.

"Stud prices reflected the demand for rams in the industry and the change that is taking place.

"There was a great representation of new and return buyers and it was very pleasing to see the increased support from volume buyers, which demonstrates the confidence they have in the breed."

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