It was a significant day at Corrigin last week when the Bolt family's Claypans Poll Merino stud celebrated its 40th annual sale and they were rewarded for their efforts with buyers pushing prices to a $4900 top.
The quality line-up of Poll Merino rams, suited to both Wheatbelt and higher rainfall conditions, was well received by the 21 registered buyers, including a handful that have been buying from the stud since its inception, after the good rains received the day before.
The buyers from not only the local area but as far away as Ravensthorpe and Victoria, competed strongly right through the catalogue on the 110 rams.
On occasions, the Elders selling team led by Elders, Corrigin representative and sale auctioneer Steele Hathway, was under the pump when bids flew in thick and fast.
When Mr Hathway knocked down the last ram in the line-up the stud had cleared 97 rams under the hammer from the 110 offered to 20 different buyers at an average of $1988, which was back $87 on last year's result.
The clearance was improved even further post-sale with a handful of the passed-in rams also finding new homes.
In comparison, in last year's sale the stud offered 134 rams and sold 127 under the hammer to a top of $3800 (four times) and an average of $2075.
Mr Hathway said it was a good solid sale for the Bolt family, the clearance rate was as expected but the prices were above presale expectations.
"It was a quality line-up of long-bodied, well-grown rams with excellent wool quality and cutting ability," Mr Hathway said.
"I think the rams presented as well as I have seen in the past five years since I have been involved with the stud.
"The quality and evenness in the line-up was reflected in the buying support which didn't dip during the sale.
"There was solid bidding competition right through from loyal returning clients, including some who purchased at the stud's inaugural sale 40 years ago."
The sale started off strongly with some of the rams in the first run selling for more than $3000, but it wasn't until about a third of the way through the sale that the buyers upped the ante.
This was especially the case when Mr Hathway offered up an upstanding, well-grown sire in lot 37.
He took an opening bid of $2500 on the ram, which showed great make and shape and from there the price raced up and quickly surpassed $3000 and $4000.
At the day's $4900 top price Mr Hathway knocked the ram down to Elders, Merredin representative Emma Dougall, who was carrying a buying order for repeat Eastern States client, the Punton family, LPL Investments Pty Ltd, Shelbourne, Victoria.
Claypans stud co-principal Steven Bolt said the Punton family had been buying from them for years and they chased rams with wool quality because they were in a high rainfall environment and also rams with good do-ability.
"The top-priced ram they have purchased is a good, safe sheep with a wool which will suit their environment," Mr Bolt said.
"He is a big, free growing, uncomplicated ram."
The ram, which is based on pure Claypans breeding, had current wool figures of 20.5 micron, 3.4 SD, 16.6 CV and 99.7 per cent comfort factor (CF).
The Victorian-based enterprise also picked up another four rams in the sale to finish with a team of five at an average of $2240.
Losing out on the $4900 top-priced ram was one the stud's oldest clients, the Hurst family, WT & MC Hurst & Co, Boyanup and Nyabing, who were operating through their Nyabing farm manager John Jolley.
However, Mr Jolley did take back to Nyabing the $4600 and $4500 second and third top-priced rams.
He went to $4600 for a long-bodied, stylish woolled ram with wool figures of 20.6 micron, 3.3 SD, 15.8 CV and 99.5pc CF in lot 81 and $4500 for a deep, square, free-growing ram with wool tests of 20.7 micron, 3.3 SD, 15.9 CV and 99.7pc CF in lot 38.
Mr Jolley said the $4600 ram was a lovely woolled ram with a beautiful solid frame.
"He has stylish crimp in his wool as well as good nourishment," Mr Jolley said.
"The $4500 ram has a similar wool type and also a good frame.
"They are both true to the types of rams we have been buying for years from the stud."
Both the second and third top-priced rams carried Old Ashrose Will bloodlines.
Mr Jolley also purchased a further six rams to finish with a team of eight at a $2775 average.
He said when selecting rams for the farm he payed particular attention to wool type as they send their wethers over to a McAlinden property as 1.5-year-olds, where they are run through to 5.5yo.
"We want wool types that can cope with the dust at Nyabing where the ewe flock is run and ones that can cope with the high rainfall at McAlinden so we don't get fleece rot," Mr Jolley said.
The Hurst family has been buying from the Claypans stud since its inception and Mr Jolley said he liked buying there as the Claypans sheep have big frames, good growth, lovely softness and style in their wool and plenty of cutting ability.
Over the past five years the enterprise's 5.5yo ewes have cut 10.5 kilograms of wool skirted, while over their whole flock, including hoggets, the average wool cut is 8.5 kilograms.
"We don't shear the lambs, we take them through and shear everything together in March and at this time they (the lambs) usually cut 4-5kg," Mr Jolley said.
A fourth ram in the line-up sold for more than $4000 when return buyer KLF & RE Steele, Pingrup, purchased a big, square, deep ram with wool figures of 20.1 micron, 3.1 SD, 15.1 CV and 99.6pc CF at $4200.
Several buyers influenced at the top end of the sale and one of the biggest of these was a return Wheatbelt client, who purchased seven sires under the hammer including five at more than $3000 for an average of $2957.
It paid a top of $3500 for a 20.8 micron, 99.9pc CF ram.
Also in this category, but buying smaller numbers, was VM & ML Bolt, Corrigin, which averaged $2533 over a team of three and AL & S Crossland, Crossland, which finished with three at an average of $2333, while return buyers P & SR Negri, Corrigin and T & L O'Driscoll & Sons, Northam, both went home with six rams at an average of $2117.
The Laycock family, East Madden Ag, Ravensthorpe, who have operated in all of the Claypans 40 sales was a good supporter, purchasing seven rams at an average of $2486 and to a top of $3400.
The Laycocks team included a ram whose proceeds the Bolts were donating to the Shearing For Liz Pink Day fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Research Centre - WA, for which they paid $1400.
Reece Laycock, who purchased with the support of Elders, Ravensthorpe/Hopetoun representative Nick Benson, said the Claypans sheep continue to do very well for them.
"They are big framed, heavy cutting sheep with bright free growing wools," Mr Laycock said.
"We have been doing well lately putting our wether lambs and cull ewe lambs through a feedlot onfarm.
"We first run them on the stubbles and then we shear them in January and put them through the feedlot and aim to turn them off in February and March."
This year the Laycocks will join 2500 ewes to Poll Merino rams for an April lambing which is back on last year's numbers.
The volume buyer was the Crombie family, RD & SM Crombie, Corrigin, who finished with 11 rams to a top of $2700 and an average of $1745.
Not far behind in terms of numbers was DE Sedgewick & Co, Bruce Rock, which secured nine rams under the hammer at an average of $1256.
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