A broad clearance of an extensive catalogue of Merino and Poll Merino rams at strong values sealed a comprehensive result at the 16th annual Woodyarrup on-property ram sale at Broomehill.
This was built on the back of the 103-year-old stud's loyal following and some fresh interest, demonstrating its commitment to the sheep and wool industry and its breeding programs.
It was clear buyers were looking beyond the challenges of this year with their sheep enterprises and they competed strongly for their pre-mating ram requirements, particularly during the front half of the sale, before competition relaxed and allowed buyers of all budgets to be active in the back-end of the fixture.
The Dewar family and the passionate Woodyarrup team maintained their large catalogue of 250 May and August 2022-drop Merino and Poll Merino rams, demonstrating their committed path to continuous learning and growth to supply commercial and stud clients with a consistently growing depth of extensively measured, profitable and predictable, big framed, white defined wool rams suited to a range of topographies.
Their rams are backed by stringent selection, Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBV) and research with genetic linkages to leading Woodyarrup and Australian sires, which sees Woodyarrup's genetic benchmarks for several key traits exceeding the national Merino average to be among the highest in the country.
The register of 46 buyers descended from most parts of Western Australia's sheep growing regions, highlighting the versatility of the Woodyarrup brand - including local Great Southern and surrounds, northern, central and eastern Wheatbelt areas and south east to Ravensthorpe.
After three hours of selling, the Elders selling team and auctioneering duo of Nathan King and James Culleton sold 238 Merino and Poll Merino rams (95 per cent) at auction for a solid overall average of $2074.
Coming off a blinder of a sale last year where 247 of 252 rams averaged $2729, a few absent buyers and more subdued buying in sections of this year's sale saw the average back by $655.
Broken down, 176 of 187 Merino rams (94pc) sold under the hammer to average $1956, taking a $923 hit to the average from last year when 173 of 176 rams (98pc) sold for an average of $2879.
The younger poll stud's improvement in quality is defining, with growing interest each year, particularly among the top-end from stud and nucleus breeder interest.
This year all bar one ram sold at auction for an improved average of $2410, up $38 on last year's bigger numbers where 74 of 76 rams (97pc) sold under the hammer for an average of $2378.
With quality from front to back of the catalogue, stud and top-end buyers remained active in the latter stages of the sale.
None more so than the surprise packet of the day when a May shorn, paddock-prepared Merino ram penned deep in lot 183, outshone the team of 62 April shorn shed prepared rams at the front of the sale and stole the sale's $8500 top-priced honours.
The ram had several interested parties before it was knocked down to long-time stud buyer Greg Marsh, Warrens Creek stud, Kojonup.
The high ranking 110.5kg August-drop naturally bred ram by 210181 displayed August 31, 2023, wool tests of 19.7-micron, 3.2 standard deviation (SD), 16.1 coefficient variation (CV) and 99.5 per cent comfort factor (CF) - along with outstanding ASBV performance, including 8.19 post weaning weight (PWWT) (top 20pc), 10.80 yearling weight (YWT) (top 20pc), -2.33 yearling fibre diameter (YFD) (top 20pc), 27.87 yearling clean fleece weight (YCFW) (top 20pc), 26.31 adult clean fleece weight (ACFW) (top 10pc), 191.5 Dual Purpose Plus Index (DP+) (top 10pc), 199.1 Merino Production Index (MP+) (top 1pc), 175.3 Fibre Production Index (FP+) (top 5pc) and 157.2 Sustainable Merino Research Index (SM) (top 5pc).
Mr Marsh said the family had been regularly buying stud sires at Woodyarrup for more than 20 years, but old ram sale catalogues showed his grandfather purchased rams from Woodyarrup during the 1920s at the Katanning ram sale.
He said they returned to Woodyarrup when Dr Paul Swan got involved with the stud in the late 1990s - with Woodyarrup making an immediate impact on their flock.
"Dr Swan explained wool in a different way and we became interested," Mr Marsh said.
"We couldn't believe the difference one ram can make; its impact put a knife through our flock, micron came down and staple length and fleece weight went up."
While Mr Marsh competed on other rams earlier in the sale, he saved his best to last.
"I was looking at him all day, big and square from behind with bold crimp, bright white wool," he said.
"Our wools have a bit more nourishment with the higher rainfall and can't tolerate anything dry."
The sale's $7000 second top price and top-priced Poll Merino ram was knocked down to return nucleus sire buyer Dion Letter and family, JJ & AE Letter, Tambellup.
Penned in lot six, the 120.5kg naturally joined April-drop and shorn heavy cutting ram by 201937 recorded wool tests of 18.5-micron, 2.6 SD, 14.3 CV and 99.3pc CF, along with a strong spread of ASBVs including 7.61 PWWT (top 30pc), 8.74 YWT (top 30pc), 37.67 YCFW (top 5pc), 35.81 ACFW (top 1pc), 182.4 MP+ (top 10pc), 161.6 FP+ (top 20pc) and 152.8 SM (top 10pc).
Mr Letter said they had been buying Woodyarrup sires for six years and were chasing a Poll sire with nourished finer type wool.
He said they would join 4000 March shorn ewes in their forthcoming mid-January mating and their latest sire addition would be used in a nucleus of 80 specially selected ewes to help breed their own next crop of flock rams.
The Letters collected another Poll ram later in lot 58 for $4400.
The next highest price of $6800 was recorded for two April shorn Merino rams.
Firstly by regular name at the top-end of the Woodarrup sale in recent years the Doyle family, Wylivere Farms, Corrigin, for one of three rams purchased at the sale.
They first paid $5200 for the sale team leader before raising their sights on lot four containing one of three ET-bred sons of impact sire 160095 offered in the first 10 lots.
The 123.5kg April-drop ram displayed wool tests of 18.3-micron, 3.1 SD, 16.7 CV and 99.8pc CF and ASBVs of -1.95 YFD (top 20pc), 37.53 YCFW (top 5pc), 35.96 ACFW (top 1pc), 3.69 yearling staple strength (YSS), 186.3 DP+ (top 20pc), 199.3 MP+ (top 1pc), 176.4 FP+ (top 5pc) and 155.8 SM (top 5pc).
The Wise family, Wililoo stud, Woodanilling, paid $6800 for their top pick in lot 28, a 126.5kg April-drop AI-bred son of 200109 (by national trait leader 140149) with wool tests of 18.4 micron, 2.4 SD, 13.2 CV and 99.7pc CF and ASBVs of 31.34 YCFW (top 10pc), 32.20 ACFW (top 5pc), 3.89 YSS (top 20pc), 191.7 DP+ (top 10pc), 197.3 MP+ (top 5pc), 174 FP+ (top 5pc), and 160.5 SM (top 5pc).
Three separate buyers included rams worth the next highest value of $6200 in their selections.
CM Gould & Sons, Nabawa, averaged a healthy $4900 for four Merino and Poll Merino rams which included two Poll rams at $6200 and $5800.
Arethusa Farming, Quairading, sourced two Merino rams paying to a $6200 top and Wangeling Nominees Pty Ltd, Wagin, three Poll rams also to a $6200 top.
A string of return volume buyers underpinned the strong clearance and was again headed by equal volume buyer and 13-year Woodyarrup clients Morgan Brothers, Cranbrook.
Sean and Corey Morgan collected a team of 16 Merino rams during the front half of the sale paying all values between $1800 and $4200 for an average of $2663.
The Morgans will join 4500 Merino ewes on February 1 for a later lambing, a move they implemented a few years ago which they said has improved their lambing percentage by at least 10pc, albeit down slightly this year with a tight start to the season.
Sean Morgan said while they have increased their cropping over the past 10 years, they have always had sheep, being in a more traditional sheep growing area.
"Our sheep have got the family through, they might get a bit of lice (which can be treated), but they don't get frosted," Mr Morgan said.
The Morgans said their sheep have also changed a lot during this time with the whole flock average down to 18 micron, increased fleece weight and greater constitution.
And indicating their flock improvement is the growing number of younger ewes the Morgans retain, allowing them to trim some older age groups from their program.
Carslake Holdings Pty Ltd, Dale, also tallied 16 mainly Merino rams paying to $3400 for a $1700 average followed by Blackboy Hill Farms, Wellstead, with 15 Merino rams averaging $1513.
Woodyarrup stud co-classer Philip Russell filled an order of 14 rams for Eddington Farming Company, Cherry Tree Pool (west of Katanning) and 13 Merino rams for AC Johnston, while other stud co-classer Russell McKay, Elders stud stock, was busy throughout the sale operating on behalf several orders including 10 Merino rams for Myoting Plains, Quairading and nine Merino rams for Yellagong Farm Pty Ltd, Williams.
Other bigger teams with 12 rams each were TMJ O'Neil & Co, Mukinbudin, GJ & PJ O'Neill, Ongerup, represented by Jeff Brown, Elders stud stock and Dale Park Partnership, Beverley, while Frost & Cave Farms, Kendenup, were the largest exclusive Poll ram buyers with nine costing to $4000 and averaging $2511.
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