In its 73rd year of breeding Merinos, the Lewis family celebrated the 60th anniversary Lewisdale Poll Merino stud annual on-property ram sale at 'Stud Park', Wickepin, on Saturday with a huge result.
Lewisdale's breeding is heavily hinged toward the dual purpose traits of the Merino and its large team of 250 big productive heavy wool cutting Poll Merino rams reflected the stud's signature phrase 'the true dual purpose Merino - meat and wool equals greater profits.'
The stud has enjoyed a successful year highlighted by winning the Elders Expo Four (shorn before April 20) and the Rabobank Trophy at this year's Rabobank WA Sheep Expo & Merino Ram Sale at Katanning in August.
It also added the most successful stud exhibitor at last week's Newdegate Machinery Field Days to the trophy cabinet.
Lewisdale's loyal band of clients from the Esperance region and eastern and Central Wheatbelts were on hand to fill their pre-mating requirements from the extensive selection of rams, described as the most even Lewisdale team for type, weight and wool.
While buyers were prepared to compete strongly at the start of the sale, competition gradually faded as the sale progressed, with just a few buyers operating on the back run of rams and largely successful with one bid.
The three-hour ring selling marathon saw sale co-ordinators AWN Livestock and Dyson Jones and auctioneers Jay Macdonald (AWN) and Cameron Petricevich (Cameron Petricevich Auctioneering) sell all 250 rams at auction for an extremely strong overall average of $2244 and be one of WA's biggest sales this selling season.
The absence of a couple of regular faces at the sale saw values soften over the past couple of years from 2021's record breaking event with this year's overall average down $143 from last year's sale where a total clearance of 250 rams averaged $2387.
In the sale breakdown, eight full wool 2021-drop Poll Merino rams averaged $5344 which was back $576 compared to last year's sale where 10 stud full wool rams averaged $5920.
A run of 12 March shorn 2021-drop Poll Merino rams averaged $3717, a rise of $304 on last year's sale where 20 rams averaged $2880.
The largest category of 230 March shorn 2022-drop Poll Merino rams averaged $2059, down marginally by $122 on last year's sale where 220 two-tooth rams averaged $2181.
The sale kicked off with eight four-tooth August shorn full wool rams with the sale's top price recorded from the outset with a semen share in the sale team leader selling for $11,500 to return stud buyer of seven years Gary Dickerson, Rejall Park, Miga Lake, Victoria.
The 169kg ram was AI-bred by Mianelup Expo and tested 20.1 micron and 99.2 per cent comfort factor (CF).
The sale's most influential buyer again was Joe Della Vedova, JLW & C Della Vedova, Condingup, assisted by Bob Bratten, Narrogin, who racked up a significant account of 68 rams.
Mr Della Vedova operated from the sale's start through to finish building his large team of rams and paid anywhere from $1500 and to a top price of $4600 and an overall average of $2163.
His top price was paid for a 120kg March shorn two-tooth ram by Lewisdale Polly (from the Lewisdale Monty family) testing 18.9 micron and 99.6pc CF.
Mr Della Vedova is a long-time Lewisdale supporter since the 1970s and remains bullish about WA's sheep and wool industry.
He intends to maintain his ewe numbers and will join a self-replacing predominantly Lewisdale blood ewe flock of 12,000 ewes all to Merino rams for an April lambing in the coming mating period.
The family finishes its wethers lambs in its own feedlot from February and begins turning them off in late April-May to WAMMCO.
Mr Della Vedova believes Lewisdale produces some of the best Merinos available on the market in WA at the moment and this year's team was the best line-up of rams he had seen at the sale.
"With the Lewisdale sheep we are looking at a dual purpose beast with wool fibre and meat characteristics so we can fatten the lamb and achieve similar weights to the British breeds with a profitable wool clip coming off them," Mr Della Vedova said.
"I think we need to stay in the industry to maintain enough numbers so we are viable into the future.
"It's no different to cropping, if we see a drought come along we don't stop farming our grain so why should we stop farming sheep because of a hiccup.
"The industry is depressed but we have to keep the stud breeders alive and if we don't support them and they leave the industry, the history and knowledge of people like Ray Lewis and Bob Bratten is gone, it's irreplaceable.
"These guys are a wealth of information in regards to genetics, breeding, structures and what works with what."
Long-time Lewisdale client of more than 40 years Steve Fowler, Jumbuk Plains, Esperance, collected seven rams early in the sale, paying from $4100 to a $5250 top price at an average of $4821.
The rams will be added to their nucleus sire battery to produce their own flock rams for their significant commercial Merino ewe flock.
The Fowlers included four full wool rams in their selections which they bid their $5250 top price for a 141kg Seymour Park syndicate bred sire testing 22.3 micron and 98.8pc CF.
Bond Brothers, Wamenusking (near Quairading), collected five rams at the sale and paid from $3000 to the sale's $5400 top two-tooth price penned in lot 18 containing a 126kg ram from the Coromandel family testing 19.7 micron and 100pc CF.
The next largest team of 14 rams was tallied by LJ & CJ Tyson, Kulin, which operated from $2000 to $3000 followed by nine-year Lewisdale clients W & M Hanscombe, Quairading, with 12 rams at reasonable value ranging from $1700 to $2200 and Lewisdale clients of more than 45 years, the Della Vedova family, Kumbooran Plains, Mount Walker, with a team of 11 rams costing from $2000 to $3600 for an average of $2845.
Sale regulars MC & D Latham, Narembeen, collected 10 rams operating at good values from $1600 to $2500, GM Carmody Holdings Pty Ltd, Albany, also acquired 10 rams costing from $1900 to $4500 for a $3040 average and Woodlands Farm, Yealering, eight rams ranging from $1600 to $3200 for an average of $2563.
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