Cranmore's loyal following was on-hand to support the stud's 73rd annual on-property ram sale at Walebing.
Now in its 115th year, the Lefroy family's Cranmore stud is among the oldest studs still operating in Australia - with many of its clients being generations in the making.
While there were a couple of absent names from this year's sale, a register of 27 buyers stretching from the local Midlands region, north to the Mid West and south to Ravensthorpe, attended.
Tight seasonal conditions in the wider Moora area, combined with the State's challenging sheep market, saw several commercial clients adjusting sheep numbers and their traditional ram requirements.
The Lefroy family recognised this and reduced its sale offering to be more in-line with the forecast requirements of their clients.
The Cranmore team presented a quality catalogue of 175 extensively measured, quality white woolled Merino and Poll Merino rams their clients have come to know and trust and proven by Cranmore's long-term breeding goal of 'producing the most profitable and easy care sheep for their clients'.
Nutrien Livestock auctioneer and Wongan Hills livestock and wool representative Grant Lupton encouraged producers to seize the opportunity and continue being more productive and producing a quality and very saleable product going forward.
"The Cranmore way is agriculture and science hand- in-hand and the genetics you have been buying for a long time have served many of you for generations of your farms and you can rely on the product here," Mr Lupton said.
He said it was a pleasure to offer the 73rd annual sale on behalf of the Lefroy family and commended the efforts of the commercial sheep producer.
"It's a great achievement that not many studs in Australia have reached," Mr Lupton said.
"Western Australian sheep producers are very good at what they do.
"In my time in the industry, I've seen lambing percentages go from 70 per cent to 100pc plus.
"We used to get penalised for lambs weighing more than 16 kilograms (carcase weight).
"You are now producing lambs at 24kg and cull-for-age ewes we used to hang up at 18-20kg, we now sell a lot of ewes at 24kg.
"When I started in the industry, the State average wool fibre diameter was about 22-micron.
"It's now a bit more than 19-micron and we didn't lose wool cut like many thought we would."
Like many ram sales this season, it was widely a buyer's market and at the completion, the Nutrien Livestock selling team overall sold 145 rams (83pc) at auction for an average price of $1607, back $331 on average compared to last year's where all 214 rams sold for an average price of $1938 in more favourable conditions.
In the breakdown, 77 of 93 Merino rams (83pc) sold under the hammer for an $1357 average price, down $553 compared to last year when 155 Merino rams averaged $1910.
Greater numbers in the Poll Merino line-up saw 68 of 82 rams (83pc) sell for a solid $1890 average price, back $120 on last year where 59 rams averaged $2010.
Regular at the top-end of the Cranmore market Brendan Vanbeek, Koolena Farm, Gillingarra, went to script with a team of six Poll rams for a strong average price of $3667 and featured the sale's two $4800 top-priced rams.
Mr Vanbeek first paid top money for lot six which displayed June scan data of 108pc bodyweight (BW) percentage against the team average, 29mm (111pc) eye muscle depth (EMD) and 2.7mm (123pc) fat depth (FD), with current wool tests of 18.4-micron, 20.3 CV, 2.8kg greasy fleece weight (GFW) (115pc) late-April shorn and displayed ASBVs of 179.75 DP+ (top 20pc), 164.67 MP+, 21.57 YCFW, -0.28 YFD, 7.22 YWT, 0.62 YFAT and 1.08 YEMD.
His next top price was paid for a high indexing ram in lot nine with figures of 25mm EMD and 2.4mm FD, 19.6 micron, 15.9 CV, 3.4kg GFW (140pc) and ASBVs of 192.57 DP+ and 186.58 MP+ (both top 5pc), 31.72 YCFW (top 10pc), -0.35 YFD, 9.6 YWT (top 20pc), 0.19 YFAT and 0.45 YEMD.
The Vanbeeks have been buying rams at Cranmore for almost 40 years and will look to mate 1200 spring-shorn self-replacing Merino ewes, but plan on halving their terminal sire matings to 1000 ewes.
Mr Vanbeek said they have swung their focus slightly to a little more on wool this year over carcase, mainly on greasy and clean fleece weights, whiteness and fibre diameter.
"Our maidens are about 16 to 17-micron, but we have noticed our micron going up a little bit and this is something we need to be mindful of," Mr Vanbeek said.
He said they had been trying to buy Polls for at least six years but still buy Merinos on their merit when they haven't been able to get the Poll rams they wanted.
"We are not fully Poll, the horns are good wool growers so if we can't get Polls, so be it," Mr Vanbeek said.
"If it's got good figures and it's a good sheep, we will still buy it."
Cranmore buyer of many decades, John Isbister, Ranfurly Agriculture, Barberton (via Moora), sourced a team of six Merino and Poll Merino rams for an average price of $1733 and included the sale's $3200 top-priced Merino ram.
This was paid for lot 16, which returned figures of 107pc BW, 34mm EMD (130pc), 2.6mm FD (118pc), 20.4 micron, 17.2 CV, 2.7kg GFW (111pc) and ASBVs 26.65 YCFW (top 20pc), 0.06 YFD, 8.8 YWT, -0.01 YFAT and 1.09 YEMD.
Ranfurly Agriculture has been running a 80 per cent cropping 20pc livestock mixed farming business, but is reducing Merino ewe numbers from 2200 to 1100 ewes in response to market and seasonal conditions.
"Sheep remain an important part of our operation, we are staying positive about the sheep industry and sticking with Merino sheep," Mr Isbister said.
"It's been one of our driest seasons ever and could be our second driest on record and it's amazing what has grown with the rain we have had.
"Feed's light from a cold July and dry August but we have had good September rains which we are grateful for."
Cranmore buyers of more than 50 years the House family, Wong Wong Pastoral Company, Watheroo, again stocked up at strong values, finishing the sale with 14 Merino rams paying to $2800 and at an average price of $1900.
Annual buyer of stronger Poll numbers for the past decade the Tonkin family, Kenilworth Agriculture, Coomberdale, collected 10 Poll Merino rams for an average price of $1450.
Another Coomberdale buyer who also favoured the Poll line-up was return buyer Kevin McLean, Banksia Downs Grazing Company, with an account of nine rams at a $1590 average price.
Mr McLean said they would be keeping things fairly steady and mate about 3000 March-shorn Merino ewes to Merino rams in mid-January.
"The season is pretty tight and I don't know how things will look at the end of summer, but we will maintain our numbers about where they are at this stage," Mr McLean said.
"We are long-time sheep and cattle producers so we won't change much."
Losing bidder on the top Poll sheep and 18-year Cranmore buyer DT & M McKinley, Moora, still sourced seven Poll rams bidding to $3000 and outlaying a strong average of $2400.
The sale's two southern buyers and long-time clients Urara Farms, Ravensthorpe and Yolander Holdings, Kojonup, purchased nine and eight rams respectively, while Creagh Bros, Dandaragan, paid to $3600 for a team of nine Poll Merino and Merino rams.
Some of the other bigger accounts included Strathmore, Dandaragan, and CTM Farming, Moora, eight rams and GM Humphry & Co, Walebing, seven rams.
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