WHEN it comes to the first sheep/ewe sale of the season, there is always an element of the unknown.
So, if the final fall of the auctioneer's gavel signifies a total clearance - you can safely say the sale was a success, as was the case for the Westcoast Rural Back to the Wheatbelt Kondinin/Corrigin Sheep/Merino ewe sale last week.
The market leading up to the sale was less than ideal and coupled with the abrupt change in seasonal conditions, there was justifiably an undercurrent of anxiety among vendors and buyers alike.
With the temperature soaring over the 30 degree mark, the dust billowing up from the dry ground and the flies out in force, auctioneer Chris Hartley kicked the sale off at the Kondinin saleyards at 11.30am and had worked through the 5466 Merino ewes, aged from lambs through to 4.5 year olds and including a pen of 138 wether lambs, by 12.15pm.
This then moved across to Corrigin for a yarding of 2976 Merino ewes aged between 1.5 and 4.5yo.
A total of 8295 Merino ewes aged between lambs and 4.5yo were offered across the two locations in 30 separate lots, with one lot of 138 Merino wether lambs at the Kondinin yarding.
The 20 lots offered at Kondinin were from 13 different vendors and the 11 lots at Corrigin represented eight individual vendors.
There were 20 registered buyers across both locations and Kondinin held a large contingent of people who went along to see how the sale would pan out.
It was the yarding of 1.5-year-old Merino ewes that achieved the sale high of $113, ranging down in price to $39, the 2.5yo from $80 back to $52, while the 3.5yo reached $67 and down to $56 and the offering of 4.5yo was at a $60 high and $46 low.
The Corrigin yarding certainly had the highest average per head for the 1.5, 2.5 and 3.5yo age categories, to see $77, $71 and $65 respectively, while the Kondinin yarding of 4.5yo was a much higher $60 than the Corrigin equivalents.
Overall the age groups averaged $70 for the 1.5yo, $64 among the 2.5yo, $62 for the 3.5yo and $50 for the 4.5yo.
Commencing in Kondinin, with 3963 1.5yo, 664 2.5yo, 347 3.5yo, 201 4.5yo Merino ewes, 153 ewe lambs and 138 wether lambs presented for sale from 13 separate vendors and split between 20 lots, with the saleyards spill pens utilised.
There was strong interest from the 20 registered buyers at Kondinin, seeing Westcoast Rural auctioneer Chris Hartley knock the first penning of the day, pens 1-5, down for the $113 per head highest price of the day for both the Kondinin and Corrigin yards.
The 361, July shorn, 1.5yo ewes on Ronern bloodline were offered for sale by Ron and Winston Dunwell, R Dunwell & Son, Yealering and purchased by Sewell & Co, Pingelly.
Westcoast Rural agent Brookton, Stephen Keatley, said it was a repeat buyer from the sale, and of the Dunwell's sheep.
"They generally buy in replacement ewes," Mr Keatley said.
"They were chasing the plain bodied sheep to put terminal sires over."
The next line, pens 6-10 with overflow in the holding pens, was the second highest price at Kondinin and across both locations, with the 484, Ronern bloodline, 1.5yo, July shorn ewes, presented for sale by the Stacey family, Maroondah Farms, Yealering, sold for $91 a head.
This line was sold to Terry Haddrill, Ariah Park, New South Wales.
Mr Gangell said Mr Haddrill was a repeat buyer and knew the quality of the sheep.
The Staceys are neighbours to the Dunwells and they both achieved the highest and second highest prices at last year's sale also.
Vendor Ron Dunwell was happy to have sold to the top price again and the fact that both the top-priced lots were from their own Ronern bloodline was quite the achievement.
The third top price of the Kondinin leg of the sale was $82 and this was also higher than the top price achieved later in the day at Corrigin.
It was lot nine, pens 34-35, a total of 94, July shorn 1.5yo Kolindale blood Merino ewes offered by Careema Farms, Kondinin, also sold to Terry Haddrill, Ariah Park, NSW.
Mr Haddrill also bought 158, 1.5 yo, August shorn, Ronern bloodline ewes, from Gnarming Farms, Kulin, for $77, taking his total ewes to 736 - all from the Kondinin saleyards.
The volume buyer of the day was Westcoast Rural Esperance livestock agent, Sam Wakefield, who purchased a total of six lots, totalling 1996 head of, 1.5yo ewes, at the Kondinin leg of the sale and a further two lots, adding 458 head of, 1.5yo, ewes at the Corrigin yarding, to secure 2454 ewes all up, ranging from $39-$66, for multiple clients across the Esperance district.
"The clients are situated at Cascade, Cape Arid and Merivale," Mr Wakefield said.
"The Merivale buyer is a repeat purchaser, but the others bought on the face value of the stock, which were in excellent condition."
Moving across to the Corrigin saleyards, the registered buyers list remained the same at 20, and the offering of 1141, 1.5yo, 357 2.5yo, 691 3.5yo and 517 4.5yo Merino ewes was split between eight vendors and 11 lots.
The top price at Corrigin was $80 and this was achieved by lot one, pens 1-4, holding 190, 2.5yo, February shorn, Lewisdale bloodline ewes, presented for sale by Jamie Miller, Rockhill Farms, Dudinin.
The ewes were bought by Westcoast Rural agent York, Mark Fairclough, on behalf of a Quairading client.
Mr Fairclough said the client was chasing larger ewes for his program.
"He likes good, big, roomy ewes," Mr Fairclough said.
"He utilises them with terminal sires to breed crossbred lambs."
Mr Fairclough finished the sale with three separate lots, ranging from 1.3-3.5 yo and from $60-$80, and totalling 625 head for his clients.
The other two lots were offered by Jarrod West, Evasham Farms, Kulin, and GS & KR Bowron, Pingaring.
It was lot five, pens 28-30, purchased by Mr Fairclough, that sold to the second highest price at the Corrigin yarding of $69.
The 268, August shorn, 1.5yo, Evasham blood ewes, were from vendor Evasham Farms, Kulin.
Not far behind this was the third highest price of the Corrigin catalogue, the $67 achieved for 451, 3.5yo, February shorn, San-Mateo bloodline ewes, presented for sale by G7K Bassett, Corrigin and purchased by DE Smoker, Narembeen.
At the end of the day the vendors, buyers and agents were all happy with the results and the full clearance was an excellent outcome for all.
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