The prospect of a strong cold front the next day, another good season in the area and faith that the sheep industry will turn around in the future, saw buyers turn up and bid confidently at the East Mundalla Merino and Poll Merino on-property ram sale at Tarin Rock last week.
When the sale got underway a long list of local return buyers and a number from a further afield, including the Eastern States, lined up alongside a handful of new clients to compete on the quality line-up of rams true to the East Mundalla type.
From beginning to end, the 33 registered buyers, knowing they were buying for the future and not today, were strong in their bidding on the extremely even line-up of February shorn rams with August wool tests, which meant the Elders selling team, led by auctioneer Nathan King, was very active taking bids, ensuring a strong result for the Gooding and Robinson families.
With the strong buying support throughout the catalogue, the stud cleared 148 rams out of the 150 offered under the hammer to 26 different buyers, to a top of $5400 and an average of $2275, which was back $365 on last year's result.
In comparison, last year the stud offered and sold 150 rams under the hammer at an average of $2640.
In summary, there were 130 Poll Merinos sold from 132 offered under the hammer at an average of $2328 (back $379 on last year), while all 18 Merinos offered were cleared for an average of $1894 (back $439).
Elders stud stock manager Tim Spicer said it was an outstanding line-up of rams and they were well-supported from a strong list of return and new buyers.
"It was a very consistent line of big framed rams carrying a quality Wheatbelt wool which buyers have come to expect from the East Mundalla stud," Mr Spicer said.
"There was also a very good line-up of stud rams in the front row which were up to their usual high standard.
"With a very even line-up it was a very solid sale and we saw good competition from lot one to 150."
However buyers were selective on type and as a result were prepared to pay high values for the better rams.
"All-in-all, buyers showed confidence in their bidding and that they are prepared to stick with their sheep at the moment despite the current position of the industry, as we have seen in other sales this year."
Equally pleased with the result was stud co-principal Daniel Gooding.
He said they were very happy with the sale in terms of clearance and prices given current market conditions.
"It is probably one of our best sales given the current position of the industry," Mr Gooding said.
"We are grateful for the support of our clients and are encouraged by the positivity they have shown today."
The very good sale result was set up early when the first 20 rams sold for an average of $3080 and it was in these pens where the day's $5400 top-priced ram was found.
It didn't take long for the $5400 mark to be reached when Mr King offered up an upstanding, square and highly productive Poll sire in lot three.
Mr King took an opening bid of $3000 on the early June 2022-drop, East Mundalla Masterbuilt 89 son and from there it quickly rose as a number of interested parties threw in bids, however in the end it was return buyers of close to 10 years the Taylor family, G & T Taylor, Kukerin, which had the final bid at $5400.
Ryan Taylor picked the ram out with the help of classer Kevin Broad due to excellent stud potential.
Mr Broad said the ram had an excellent stud outlook, good bone and shape along with tremendous hindquarter and a strong head.
"He carries all the traits required to breed big wether lambs in the Wheatbelt," Mr Broad said.
The 136kg ram had wool figures of 19.8 micron, 3.2 SD, 16.2 CV and 99.8 per cent comfort factor (CF).
Along with purchasing the top-priced ram, the Taylors also purchased another nine Poll sires to finish with a team of 10 at an average of $3170.
Also included in their team at $3800 was the first ram offered, an East Mundalla 83 son which weighed in at 132kg and had wool figures of 19.7 micron, 3.1 SD, 15.7 CV and 99.8pc CF.
Mr Taylor said this ram was a standout for its wool quality.
"It has a soft, stylish wool on a handy frame," Mr Taylor said.
"We will use both the top-priced ram and this ram in our nucleus flock of 230 ewes to breed rams for our own use."
In addition to their nucleus flock of ewes, the Taylors join 2000 ewes to Merino rams and 1800 Merino ewes to White Suffolk rams for an April/May lambing.
Mr Taylor said they liked the East Mundalla bloodline as the sheep had good size and good production traits.
The family's mature ewes average 20-21 micron and cut 7kg of wool.With their wether lambs, the Taylors shear them at the end of September then put them on feeders before harvest, aiming to sell them all before the end of January at 22kg dressed weight.
Mr Taylor said they were looking at keeping their flock numbers the same despite the current position in the market.
"I love my sheep, so they won't be going anywhere, we have confidence the market will turn around like it has done in the past," he said.
The second top price was $4400 for a well-grown Merino ram with great make and shape.After some spirited bidding, the ram was finally knocked down to return buyer Brendan Maher, Rockdale Valley stud, Muntadgin, who also bid with the support of Mr Broad, who classes the Rockdale Valley flock.
The 109kg ram, which carried East Mundalla Jonty bloodlines, had wool figures of 17.3 micron, 3.5 SD, 20.2 CV and 99.9pc CF.
Mr Broad said the ram was well-balanced and had a terrific wool for its scale and size.
"His wool is stylish, well-crimped and white," Mr Broad said.
"He will breed rams that will produce early maturing wether lambs."
Mr Maher said the ram would be used over ewes he had recently purchased from the Cardiff dispersal sale.
Also heading to the Rockdale Valley stud at $3400 was another Merino sire.
It was a Masterbuilt 83 son which weighed in at 115kg with wool figures of 18.1 micron, 3.4 SD, 18.8 CV and 99.9pc CF.
Mr Broad said this ram would also breed early maturing wether lambs.
There were a number of buyers who weren't afraid to bid up on their preferred lots, including NF West & Co, Dumbleyung.
The Wests averaged $3467 over a team of three Poll Merinos which included a ram measuring 19.4 micron, 3.1 SD, 16.0 CV and 99.9pc CF in the wool at $3800, as well as a sire that measured 19.7 micron, 3.4 SD, 17.3 CV and 99.3pc CF in the wool for $3600.Both rams were by Masterbuilt 89 and weighed 112kg.
Also in this category was P & L Keley, Katanning, picking up two Polls at a $3000 average, while IC & C Faulkner, Kukerin, averaged $2900 over a pair of Polls.
Other strong supporters at the top end who purchased larger teams included new buyer David Tonkin, Newdegate Spreading, Newdegate, who was chasing large-framed rams with free-growing, crimpy wools.
Mr Tonkin averaged $2867 over a team of nine Polls which topped at $3600.
Fellow Newdegate producer RA McDonald & Co, was also in this category, going home with eight Polls to a top of $3600 and an average of $2763, while return buyers the Astbury family, EL & SM Astbury, Harrismith, purchased six Polls at a $2533 average and a top of $2800 twice.
Return buyer of 10 years Ian Lloyd, IF & SJ Lloyd, Newdegate, had an impact on the sale, not only in terms of prices but also numbers as he chased rams with plain bodies and long-stapled, white wools.
Mr Lloyd finished the day as the volume buyer with 16 rams (15 Polls and a Merino) at an average of $2513 and to a top of $3400 paid for a 112kg Poll which measured 18.5 micron, 3.8 SD, 20.8 CV and 99.6pc CF.
Also heading to Lloyd's property at $2600 was a Poll ram, with the proceeds going to the Shearing For Liz Pink Day fundraiser charity for Breast Cancer Research - WA.
Mr Lloyd, who will join 2800 ewes this season to Merinos, said he has continued to return and purchase from the stud as it bred big-framed, heavy wool cutters.
The Lloyds mature ewe flock averages 20-20.5 micron and a 7-7.5kg wool cut.
The next biggest buyers were Vince and Cindy Nicholls, MJ & PA Nicholls, Lake King, who purchased 13 Poll Merinos to a top of $1800 and an average of $1200.
The Nicholls family has been buying from East Mundalla since it offered its first Poll rams at auction.
Mr Nicholls said he was looking for big framed rams that had long-stapled wools to add to their sire battery which will be joined to 3000 ewes this year.
Another buyer to purchase a double figure team was BB Smith, Dumbleyung, going home with eight Polls and two Merinos at an average of $2090 and to a top of $2800.
Rounding out the day's bigger buyers were client of four years, Noonan Bros, Katanning, which purchased nine Polls to a top of $3200 and an average of $2089, while KJ & RF Liebeck, Merredin, averaged $2200 over a team of five Merinos and four Polls that topped at $2800 for a Poll.
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