A loyal band of repeat buyers and one new face secured half of the 30 ram-offering put up by Boorabbin Merino at the stud's on-property sale in Wannamal that produced a top price of $1250 and an average price of $580.
It was disappointing to see 15 rams passed in, but several were cleared by selling agent AWN after the auction.
All in attendance at the sale - from the vendor, to the agent and farmer buyers - blamed current external pressures on the sheep market for the less-than-ideal sale clearance rate.
These pressures were primarily put down to the ripple effects of the Federal government's announcement it intends to phase-out live sheep exports, a lack of domestic processing capacity, limited markets for sheep in the Eastern States and supplies of sheep going on to the local market outpacing demand.
Sheep classer Bruno Luciani secured the $1250 top-priced ram at the Boorabbin sale for Damian McEllister, trading as DJ, RM and JJ McEllister, Narrogin.
This was for a Poll Merino ram that had impressive wool figures of 19.7-micron, 18.4 coefficient of variation of fibre diameter (CV), 3.6 SD and 99.5 per cent comfort factor (CF).
Mr Luciani said he chose this ram for its outstanding wool measurements and its size.
"I particularly liked its high CF and low FD measurements," Mr Luciani said.
He said the ram would be used over 400 ewe hoggets and contribute to the McEllisters' breeding objectives of producing finer wool with a high clean fleece weight.
"The family has only started out with Merinos a few years ago and is investing in good genetics," Mr Luciani said.
The McEllisters bought another polled ram for $800 and a third poll for $750.
Mr Luciani, who is also the sheep classer for Boorabbin Merino, said stud owners Iain and Lucy Nicholson had put up an excellent team of Poll Merino and Merino sires for sale again this year.
"But the way things are at present in the sheep market makes it hard to sell a lot of rams," he said.
"Wannamal is also a hard area to sell sheep into, as many farmers in the region are winding back stock numbers and expanding their cropping operations."
Boorabbin Merino offered 15 Poll Merinos and 15 Merinos.
The polled sires had an average price of $680 from the 10 that sold.
The Merino rams had an average price of $380 for the five that sold.
Second top price of the sale at $950 was a Poll Merino sire knocked down to Halligan Holdings, New Norcia.
It had excellent figures of 17.3 micron, 17.9 CV, 3.1 SD and 100pc CF.
Halligan Holdings bought three rams in total, with the second bought for $300 and a third secured for $500.
The third top price of the sale at $800 was for a ram bought by the McEllisters.
It had a 17.6 micron, 19.8 CV, 3.5 SD and 100pc CF.
The top price Merino ram at $500 was bought by GP and SL Sinclair, New Norcia, which bought all the horned sires that sold under the hammer for between $300 and $500.
New buyer Michael and Peter Sparks, trading as
M Sparks, Dowerin, went home with three Poll Merino rams to a top of $700.
Yalanbee Estate, Hill River, bought one ram under the hammer for $650.
Boorabbin stud principal Iain Nicholson said it had been a tough task to sell a full contingent of rams this year.
"We are down a bit on the top price and average," Mr Nicholson said.
"But that is understandable and not unexpected given the lack of confidence in the sheep industry at the moment.
"It was actually a bit better than we thought it would be (to sell rams)."
Mr Nicholson said it was years like this that highlighted the importance of having repeat and loyal clients.
And he said it was positive to see a new face take home three rams from the sale.
Mr Nicholson blamed the Federal government for undermining a lack of confidence in the sheep sector, which had already been under pressure from the impacts of COVID-19 and high sheep supplies on the market.
"It is very upsetting what the government has done," Mr Nicholson said.
"It has put a nail in the coffin in any confidence that was left after COVID.
"I urge the government to reverse its direction."
Mr Nicholson said he had put up one of his best line-ups of Poll Merino and Merino sheep this year.
He said he liked to offer both polled and horned sires to meet different client demands.
"We have clients who only buy Merinos and those who only buy Poll Merinos and we need to cater for both," Mr Nicholson said.
With a less than ideal result on the rams, Mr Nicholson said the family was still celebrating the Calingiri Cougars reserves team defeating Gingin in last weekend's grand final, breaking a seven-year run of wins for Gingin and marking the first grand final for the Cougars since 1999.
AWN wool and livestock state manager Greg Tilbrook was at the Boorabbin ram sale and said it was great to see return buyers back again showing their loyalty to the Nicholsons.
"It shows that farmers are still investing in good genetics," Mr Tilbrook said.
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