The two vendors at the combined Barooga Poll Merino and Noorla Dohne ram sale produced a good set of results, topping at $2800 at Williams last week.
Respective owners Andrew Higham and Jeremy Genders went into the fixture knowing full well the sheep industry was in a vastly different economic climate and came away pleased that client support kept prices and clearance rates at least in touch with last year's results.
Noorla stud claimed the $2800 sale top, but it was Barooga's 122-rams offering that was first to go under Nutrien Livestock auctioneer Ben Hankinson's hammer.
Three Barooga rams hit a $1900 high, beating last year's $1800 top and 100 sold for a $983 average, down just $80 on last year's $1063 when 117 sold out of the 123 offered.
Mr Higham said from client contact a month ago, he was confident the entire offering was accounted for, but in the fortnight leading up to the sale things changed.
"I could have put in less rams but I knew if I left them in the paddock, I had no chance of selling them," Mr Higham said.
Features of this year's sale was the rock-solid support of repeat clients and the improving Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) behind every ram, for which clients voiced their appreciation.
The McNamara family, Westmere Farming Co, Williams, was the first to spend the $1900 top money when it was successful on lot five, a son of Barooga 190104 with 163.06 MP+ index and 179.53 DP+ index.
It was one of four by the same sire bought by Westmere as it put together a five-ram team.
The other ram was by Anderson 171129 and although it had lower indices, it had the combination of size and a rich long staple wool that attracted good competition and was the second ram to equal the $1900 top price.
Westmere also paid $1400 twice to be among the top price payers.
The final ram to fetch $1900 was one of four bought by RA & A Maiolo & Son, Williams.
Bruno Maiolo, daughter Ashley and son Damian, have been buying Barooga rams for the best part of a decade and said the bloodline had great wool and figures and there was always good communication between studmaster and clients.
He also admitted by lot 54 he was getting a bit frustrated at missing out on a number of rams he particularly wanted, prompting them to bid a bit harder.
This year the family wanted a few less rams, partly because they bought extra last year and partly because they had tweaked their program and planned to join a few more ewes to terminal sires.
They bought four rams including others for $1400, $1300 and $1200.
Barooga's $1600 second top price was paid by PG Paini & Son, which was dominant in the early stages of the sale, paying $1500 and $1400 twice as they put together a seven-ram team for the trip back to Kojonup.
Richard and William Higham, trading as Wild Horse Hill, Williams, resumed their usual role as one of the day's volume buyers, putting together a 14-ram team and paying up to $1500.
Spokesman William Higham said it was their normal number of annual replacements and although they had trimmed ewe numbers a little, they had made no big changes to the size of their ewe flock.
They chased rams supported by high eye muscle and fat figures saying it was crucial in ensuring high lambing percentages.
QF & LK Medlen, Williams, was easily the day's biggest buyer, taking home 22 rams and paying some solid prices that included one at $1400, one at $1300, one at $1200, four at $1100 and four at $1000 before the heat went out of the market.
Mike Ferrari, Corrigin, also was a volume buyer taking home 12 rams for up to $1300.
Buyers demonstrated their commitment to the Dohne breed by bidding freely on select animals to set many of the day's highest prices.
The dispersal of the Kintail Park Dohne stud last year was a silver lining for Mr Genders who counted several new names on his buyers' list.
One of those was Brendan Watterson, Yuelup Farms, Tenterden, who was at the sale chasing a single sire knowing the stud had some Kintail Park bloodlines in its background.
He paid the $2800 top price.
The family runs separate wool and meat producing flocks in a crop-dominated enterprise and they planned to use the ram over classed out Merino ewes to produce a more vigorous and faster growing lamb to provide F1 mothers.
He said it was the first time he had bought at Noorla and the single ram he selected had the right wool type to fit into their environment.
The ram by Noorla 199436, was twin born, had a 152.2 index at the August analysis and strong positive deviations for yearling weight, eye muscle depth, fat and clean fleece weight.
On top of that, the young ram was just cutting its two teeth.
Mr Watterson was among several clients who expressed appreciation for the way Noorla produced paddock reared and finished rams.
Another notable buyer was Tim Pyle, who runs Millstream Pastoral with his brother David near Manypeaks.
In the past he has bought from both Noorla and Kintail Park and last week went home with a dozen rams including two bought for $2000 each.
He was one of the few farmers at the sale to say they intended to keep ewe numbers static and was optimistic sheep values would spring back to a better level sooner rather than later.
He believed they had an advantage in their area because of their close proximity to abattoirs and processors but at the same time said he wouldn't have the confidence to go out and buy-in ewes at this point in time.
While several other first-time buyers operated on the offering their support was not enough to prevent a drop in the sale statistics.
Last year Noorla offered 85 rams and sold 54 for a $1230 average.
This year 95 rams were penned and 55 sold for a $956 average.
It was a result that held no surprises for Mr Genders.
"It was very much in line with what we expected," Mr Genders said.
"The front half of the sale was really strong with good values but there were not enough buyers for the second half and we knew we were going to be short because a couple of clients who pledged to be there didn't turn up."
However, it was not without some highlights provided by long-term clients.
For 16 years Josh and Tegan Sullivan have travelled from Gibson to attend the sale and this year they paid the $2300 second top price and took home four rams including another for $1500.
Another long-term buyer Russell Lockyer, Treehaven Farm, Bolgart, who has been a client for more than a decade, left a buying order with Nutrien Livestock for nine rams.
Treehaven paid $2000, $1900 and $1500 before values settled consistently at the $600 upset price.
Nutrien Livestock Breeding representative Mitchell Crosby expected a more difficult sale considering the decline in commercial sheep prices was now making headlines across the country.
In light of lower saleyard prices, he tipped a 10 per cent decline in the State's breeding flock this mating. but was pleased to see both vendors at last week's sale sell to some enthusiastic repeat buyers.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.