THE hot day was met with equally hot prices at the Blackrock Angus Bull Sale at Boyanup, with the sale average lifting 40 per cent on last year to set a new benchmark for the MacLeay family.
In the sale prices hit a high of $22,500, all 71 bulls offered found new homes and the sale averaged $12,761, to be well up on the stud's previous best average of $9163 set in 2017.
Once again the MacLeay family yarded an outstanding catalogue of bulls that reflected the stud's breeding focus of docility, fertility and growth.
With 86 buyers registered at the sale and another 52 registered bidders from New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and WA on AuctionsPlus, where the catalogue received 1537 views, the writing was on the wall for a very strong result before the sale even started and that is certainly how it played out.
When the sale commenced the buyers showed they were certainly prepared to bid strongly given the record cattle returns they have been receiving over the past 12 months.
Bids came in thick and fast right through the sale from buyers as they chased the bulls they wanted, meaning there was never a dull moment during the sale for the Elders selling team led by auctioneer Nathan King, as they tried to keep track of where the bids were coming from.
By sale's end the selling team had cleared all 71 bulls offered under the hammer to 44 different buyers, who came from as far away as Condingup in the south east to Geraldton, in the north at an average of $12,761, which was up $3610 on last year's sale.
In comparison, in last year's sale the MacLeay family offered and sold 58 bulls to a top of $24,500 and an average of $9151.
The 40 per cent jump in average price equates to the same increase producers have seen in weaner prices this season.
Along with the strong support from buyers in the stands, there were 90 online bids placed by nine active bidders on AuctionsPlus, across 24 lots resulting in four lots being knocked down to four different online buyers from WA.
Elders stud stock representative Deane Allen said it was a fantastic sale for the MacLeay family and a well deserved result as they had again presented an excellent line of bulls.
"It was a great even line-up of bulls from start to finish, backed by top genetics and the offering was a credit to the stud," Mr Allen said.
"I had a lot of people say to me when inspecting the bulls prior to the sale how good they looked which is always great to hear.
"There were plenty of bulls in the team which had great structure, depth of body, softness and muscling and there was certainly very strong competition on these types.
"It was also very obvious buyers realised from the first few lots sold they were going to have to readjust their budgets and this showed right through the sale with the majority of bulls selling for $10,000 or more.
"Overall it was a very strong and consistent sale throughout with no extreme lows or highs and this is probably a reflection of the evenness of the team.
"We had expected the prices to be up on last year given the bull sales already held and the position of the cattle market, but it was certainly more than we expected."
With an extremely even line-up of bulls throughout, there were a number of bulls that could have sparked strong buyer interest and this was certainly the case with 18 bulls or 25pc of the catalogue selling for $15,000 or more.
But the one that sparked the biggest interest was Blackrock R131 in lot 10.
Mr King took an opening bid of $10,000 on the thick, stylish sire and the price quickly rose from there, surpassing the $15,000 mark in a flash and then the $20,000 mark before bids slowed and two buyers battled it out.
In the end the son of Musgrave Stunner 316 and Blackrock N18 (a Te Mania Garth G67 daughter), was knocked down to return buyers the Fleay family, NW Knowles & Co, Peaceful Bay, at the day's $22,500 top price, after they bid with the support of Nutrien Livestock, Kojonup agent Troy Hornby.
Mr Hornby said the Fleays were in the process of upgrading the genetic base of their breeding herd and this bull would be part of the improvement program, along with cows purchased from RF & RE Walker, Wilga, over the past two years.
The Fleays purchased 35 cows from the Walker's reduction sale this year and 60 head in 2021.
Mr Hornby said R131 was a nice soft bull with good depth and thickness.
"He has good shape and structure and a good temperament," Mr Hornby said.
"He will be used over the Walker's cows and hopefully he will breed calves with good structure and depth."
When it came to its estimated breeding values (EBVs), R131 sat at -4.5 for gestation length (GL), +3.8 birthweight (BWT), +53, +98 and +129 for 200, 400 and 600-day weights, +105 mature cow weight, +24 milk, +69 carcase weight, +5.2 eye muscle area (EMA), +0.1 rib fat, -0.9 rump fat, +0.0 retail beef yield (RBY), +2.1 intramuscular fat (IMF) and +17 docility.
It had indexes of +$200 for the $A index and $350 for the $A-L index.
Buyer Justin Fleay said they had gradually been increasing the numbers in their breeding herd over the past few years and were now running 360 Angus breeders.
"We like the Angus breed because they are good, durable cattle that do well in our area and the calves are easy to market," Mr Fleay said.
"We have purchased from Blackrock previously and like the Blackrock bulls because they are beautiful soft cattle and produce excellent calves."
The Fleays calve for four months, starting at the end of February and then sell their calves through the Mount Barker Regional Saleyards as weaners from December to February.
The second highest price was $21,500 for Blackrock R84 in lot two, bid by return buyer of more than 35 years Graham Nixon, Nixon Bros, New Norcia, who has purchased from the stud for a long time because the MacLeays were good people to deal with and because they have similar breeding principles to him.
Mr Nixon said "R84 wasn't my initial choice, I came to sale with another bull picked out."
"But when I got here and looked over him again I decided he wasn't quite what I was looking for, so then I went back through the team and settled on R84," Mr Nixon said.
"R84 is a good all round bull in terms of both objective and subjective assessment.
"He has a lovely soft coat, a good tight sheath, a sound structure and moves well.
"In terms of his EBVs he has adequate growth, good milk, good gestation length and days to calving, a modest birthweight and good scrotal size."
The deep, wide Millah Murrah Loch Up L133 son ranks in the top 10pc of the breed for milk 20pc (+23), top 15pc for scrotal size (+3.2) and docility (+20) and top 20pc for 200, 400 and 600-day weights (+58, +101 and +133), while it has indexes of +$226 for $A and +$377 for $A-L, which are in the top 25pc of the breed.
The Nixons, who run 380 Angus breeders, will use R84 in their elite herd of 45 breeders to breed bulls for their own use.
They drop their calves in May/June and then put them through their own feedlot before selling them.
After losing out on the two top-priced bulls return buyers of four years the Bowie family, Bowie Beef, Bridgetown, secured the sale's third top-priced bull, Blackrock R147 in lot 26, for $19,500.
R147, which is sired by Musgrave Stunner 316, showed off plenty of depth and thickness in the ring and this was backed by a good set of EBVs.
It ranks in the top 10pc for EMA, top 20pc for docility and top 25pc for 200 and 400-day weights.
Bowie Beef farm manager Mat Fairbrass said R147 was a moderate framed bull with plenty of muscling and softness.
"He ticked all the boxes as we went to the sale looking for moderate framed, soft, well-muscled bulls," Mr Fairbrass said.
Along with securing R147 the Bridgetown enterprise also purchased another three bulls to finish with a team of four at an average of $17,500.
Included in these three were a Blackrock R90 and Blackrock R190 in lots 20 and 40 both at $18,500.
R90 is by Baldridge Beast Mode B074 and ranks in the top 5pc for 200 and 600-day weights, scrotal size, days to calving and docility plus top 10pc for 400-day weight, mature cow weight, rib fat and rump fat.
R190 is a Musgrave Stunner 316 son and it ranks in the top 10pc for rib fat and top 15pc for milk and scrotal size.
Mr Fairbrass said they have continued to return and buy from Blackrock over the past five years because the stud breeds very good shaped bulls with amazing temperaments.
The Bowie family this year will join more than 1000 Angus breeders for an April/May calving and they sell the majority of their calves January-weaned direct to a lotfeeder from mid-February.
Mr Fairbrass said this year when they weaned their calves in January they averaged more than 360kg and were 20kg heavier than last year.
While the majority of the enterprise's calves are sold in February, they do wean and market a small number of steers through the WALSA Boyanup weaner sales in November each year.
This season they sold 80 steers in November and they averaged about 350kg and $2050 a head.
Two bulls made $19,000 in the sale and both were by Glenoch-JK Makahu M602 and had very good fats.
The first was Blackrock R124 (lot six) when it was sold to the Collard family, Warringah Grazing Co, Badgingarra.
R124 ranks in the top 1pc for rib fat (+4.0) and top 4pc rump fat (+2.3).
The second bull to make $19,000 was Blackrock R76 (lot 13) and it was purchased by the Phillips family, WD & IM Phillips, Manjimup.
R76 ranks in the top 3pc for rib fat (+2.6) and top 11pc for rump fat (+1.4).
The volume buyer title was shared between two Condingup-based operations - the Fowler family, Chilwell and the Darlow family, Darlow Pastoral, who both secured five bulls each.
The Darlow family averaged $13,300 across its team of five.
The Darlows paid to a top of $16,000 for Blackrock R50, which was one of two Musgrave Stunner 316 sons they purchased.
R50 ranks in the top 5pc for BWT and docility and top 10pc for rib fat.
It also purchased two Booroomooka Genius G120 sons and a Karoo Knockout K176 son.
When it came to the Chilwell team, the Fowler family left its bidding to Nutrien Livestock, Esperance agent Darren Chatley.
He bid to a high of $15,000 for the account and averaged $13,100 across the five purchases.
Mr Chatley said the Fowlers had been buying from Blackrock for 10 years and continued to buy from the stud as the bulls were doing the job.
"The quality of the carcase of the Blackrock sired calves are a perfect fit for the grid and Woolworths are very happy with them," Mr Chatley said.
"They are top quality carcases."
The team heading to Chilwell included three Musgrave Stunner 316 sons, an Ardcairnie N12 son and a Blackrock P207 son.
Mr Chatley said in the sale he was chasing moderate framed bulls with plenty of thickness and depth for the enterprise.
"I was looking for bulls with positive fats as the Fowlers target the domestic supermarket and also those with good maternal traits, as it is a self-replacing herd," he said.
"We were keen to get some Musgrave Stunner sons as they will be a new bloodline and we got three because they were the style of bull we wanted."
The Fowlers run 2000 Angus breeders and retain 400 replacement heifers a year.
They calve down in March/April and the calves are then weaned prior to Christmas.
Mr Chatley said when it came to marketing their calves, the Fowlers ran their steers and the remaining heifers through to 16-18 months old and sold them as a grass-fattened animal to Woolworths at an average of 275kg dressed weight in September/October.
The next biggest buyer behind the two Condingup enterprises was return buyers the Keilman family, Lilyvale Grazing, Pinjarra, who purchased four bulls to a top of $10,000 and an average of $8500.
Buyer Geoff Keilman said he was chasing bulls that would improve the family's herd in terms of growth, muscling and structure.
"It was a very even line-up and you could really buy anywhere in the catalogue with confidence," Mr Keilman said.
"It was a great presentation of bulls and I was very happy with the bulls we secured.
"We like the Blackrock bulls because they are structurally sound, have good temperaments and they are the type of bull that suit what we are doing."
The Keilman family is currently running 500 Angus breeders which calve down in March/April, with the aim of selling the calves weaned to lotfeeders or grass fatteners at 330-340kg.
Along with these buyers mentioned who purchased multiple lots, there were another nine buyers which purchased two or more bulls during the auction, including three that secured three bulls.
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