Buyers came from far and wide to last week's Moojepin Merinos on-property ram sale at Katanning to get their hands on the stud's industry leading genetics - and they pushed prices to a sale high of $19,000.
With Moojepin's breeding philosophy revolving around the continuous pursuit of excellence in sheep breeding and it being well-known as an industry leader and innovator in Merino breeding, focusing on traits that deliver profitability - including early growth, muscle development and fat content - there were plenty of buyers in person and online when the sale got underway.
From the opening lot to the very last ram, the 25 registered buyers attending from the local area, the eastern Wheatbelt and as far afield as New South Wales and Victoria, along with eight active bidders on AuctionsPlus, weren't afraid to bid strongly on the rams they wanted.
As a result, the Nutrien Livestock selling team - led by auctioneer Tiny Holly - had little trouble finding new homes for almost all of the rams offered.
When the final ram was knocked down by Mr Holly, the stud had cleared 156 rams out of the 166 offered at an average of $1947 to 24 different buyers in attendance at the sale - as well as another six operating on AuctionsPlus.
In comparison, when the markets and the season were much better across Australia, the stud offered 173 rams and sold 168 to a top of $14,000 and an average of $2549, meaning this year's average was back $602 and there were 12 less rams sold in the sale.
Moojepin co-principal David Thompson said they were very pleased with how the sale panned out after having some doubts before the sale.
"We were a bit concerned going in, given where the markets are at currently, but in the end I think we had a good solid sale - which was a big relief," Mr Thompson said.
"It was a very consistent and steady sale throughout in terms of prices and I think our clients got good rams at good values.
"It was also very pleasing to see strong support from the Eastern States again, as it gives us confidence in our sheep and shows they perform in a range of environments."
Nutrien Livestock stud and commercial sheep manager Tom Bowen said it was a solid sale throughout in terms of prices and the clearance overall was very good given the current position of the sheep markets across Australia.
"We saw strong support from regular local buyers right through the catalogue, who know the Moojepin product," Mr Bowen said.
"There was also once again very strong buying support on AuctionsPlus from regular clients across Australia and through the platform there were 31 rams sold.
"The result was a testament to the Thompson family and what they are doing with the stud.
"They have concentrated strongly on those key production traits that drive profitability and their clients believe in the genetics and are getting the results in the paddock."
While the sale got off to a slightly slower start than in previous years, it heated up when lot 95 was offered.
After taking an opening bid of $2000, Mr Holly wasn't short of bids and in the blink of an eye, the price had hit five figures.
It continued to rise from there as a buyer on AuctionsPlus and one on the ground went into a protracted battle to take home the ram.
In the end it was Tom Mulholland, Mulholland Poll Merinos, Noorong, NSW, operating on AuctionsPlus, who prevailed for the $19,000 top price.
Mr Mulholland, who has been buying from Moojepin for eight years and also runs a property at Willalooka, South Australia, said it was the ram's high growth figure combined with its moderate adult weight figure and its good bare head and breech which appealed most.
"He had everything really and ticked all the boxes for us in terms of what we are trying to breed," Mr Mulholland said.
"We are trying to breed a fast growing, early maturing, plain-bodied animal which is bare on the head and the breech that ends up with a smaller adult weight."
The single-born, double polled ram was sired by Moojepin 200538.
It has Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBV) of 12.17 post weaning weight (PWWT), 2.53 yearling eye muscle depth (YEMD), 1.09 yearling fat (YFAT), 8.58 adult weight (AWT), 14.74 yearling clean fleece weight (YCFW), 24.41 yearling staple length (YSL), 0.55 yearling fibre diameter (YFD), -1.6 yearling fibre diameter coefficient of variation (YFDCV), -59.47 yearling worm egg count (YWEC), 0.25 weaning rate (WR), 0.08 conception (CON), 0.31 yearling conception (YCON), 0.06 ewe rearing ability (ERA), -0.81 early breech cover (EBCOV), -1.71 early breech wrinkle (EBWR), -0.59 late dag (LDAG) and -0.33 intramuscular fat (IMF).
With these figures, it ranks in the top five per cent of the industry for PWWT, YSL, CON, YCON, LDAG, EBCOV and EBWR as well as top 10pc for YEMD, YWEC, WR and top 20pc for YFAT, AWT and ERA.
Along with the top-priced ram, Mr Mulholland purchased a second sire at $4400, which was the day's second top price.
It went to $4400 for a twin-born, double polled ram which was by Moojepin 210042 and out of a ewe lamb.
It ranks in the top 5pc for YSL, WR and EBWR, as well as top 10pc for PWWT, YEMD, YFAT, CON, YCON and EBCOV and top 20pc for IMF.
But these weren't the only two rams purchased through the AuctionsPlus system, through which the catalogue had received 1094 views.
There were eight active bidders all up and they placed 323 bids on 74 lots which resulted in 31 selling via the platform.
There were two other buyers operating from South Australia on AuctionsPlus - one from Karoonda, which purchased three sires at an average of $2333, while another from Kingscote secured nine at a $1489 average.
The biggest buyer on AuctionsPlus was a buyer from Trangie, NSW, purchasing 14 rams to a top of $2600 twice and an average of $2114, while two rams were headed to Victoria at an average of $1600 when a bidder from Pyalong was successful through the platform.
The third top price in the sale was $3800 and it was paid by buyers of more than 20 years, the Page family, KJ & RJ Page, Pingelly, who were losing bidders on the $19,000 top-priced ram.
At $3800, the Pages secured the second last ram offered which was a twin born and raised, double polled sire by Moojepin 200475.
It ranks in the top 5pc for PWWT, CON and EBCOV, as well as top 10pc for AWT and LDAG.
Also heading to the Page's property at $1600 was a ram out of a ewe lamb which ranks in the top 5pc for PWWT, AWT, YFDCV, WR, CON, YCON, ERA and EBWR.
The volume buyer title this year went to second year buyer Robbie Bateman, Batchell Ag, Furner, South Australia, who was attending the sale for the first time in person after buying through AuctionsPlus last year.
Mr Bateman worked his way through the catalogue and by the end of the offering had secured 22 rams to a top of $3000 (equal fourth top price) and an average of $1923.
He paid $3000 for a ram, which was out of a ewe lamb and ranked in the top 5pc for PWWT, YFAT, WR, CON and YCON.
Mr Bateman said he was happy with how last year's rams had turned out and bred.
"They performed well and you certainly get good bang for your buck with these rams," Mr Bateman said.
"In the sale I was looking for rams with high growth, as I am wanting to join ewe lambs in the future."
The next biggest buyer was return buyer James Finlay, Finlay Family Pastoral, Movern, NSW, who bid through NeXtgen Agri WA consultant Amy Lockwood, Woodanilling.
Ms Lockwood was active throughout the sale for the account, securing rams that were well-structured with good wools that can handle high rainfall and also had good fat and muscle figures.
All up there were 12 rams knocked down to the Finlay family at an average of $1667 and to a top of $2400 twice.
Last year's volume buyer David Meyer, The Meyer Trading Trust, Broomehill, again had a major influence, purchasing 10 rams to the equal fourth top price of $3000 and an average of $2340.
Mr Meyer paid $3000 for a ram that ranks in the top 5pc for PWWT, AWT, WR, CON, YCON, ERA, EBWR and EBCOV.
He said he was chasing all round types which had both good carcase traits and good quality wool, including staple length and fleece weight.
"I have been using Moojepin rams for 21 years and I am very happy with how they have improved my flock," Mr Meyer said.
"I like their growth rates, fertility and ease of management traits they offer.
"The Thompsons focus on the key profit drivers for a sheep enterprise and their rams deliver on them."
This year Mr Meyer will join 3000 ewes to Moojepin rams for a late June and July lambing.
"Our aim is to sell our wether lambs at about 50 kilograms liveweight to the abattoirs by the end of February after we have prepared them properly for sale," Mr Meyer said.
The preparation for sale begins when the lambs are weaned onto prepared fodder crops in mid-October from there they are introduced to a lupin-based feed mix as soon as the pasture dries off.
The Meyers aim is to start to turn off their first drafts of lambs at the end of December and want them all gone by the end of February so they can start managing their ewes for the next lambing.
Other buyers to have an influence on the sale in terms of numbers bought included return buyer RJ & HLS Reed, Esperance, which purchased nine rams to a top of $2400 and an average of $1800, while RJ & BR Harris, Cuballing, secured eight at a $1525 average and FR & P Kilpatrick, Beverley and A & S Stevens, Kellerberrin, both purchased seven rams at averages of $1114 and $1457 respectively.
Along with the rams already mentioned that sold for the equal fourth $3000 top price, there were another two to make this value and they were purchased by FL White & Co, Wagin, as part of a team of two that averaged $2250, while JR & PG Gordon, Kaniva, Victoria, also purchased at this value as part of a team of four that averaged $2400.
Every year the Thompsons donate the proceeds of one ram to charity and this year their chosen charity was Active Farmers, which is a registered Not For Profit Organisation and Health Promotion Charity, that aims to bring together farmers and other locals in small farming communities through regular group fitness in a fun and interactive environment.
Taking home the charity ram at $2600 was first time buyer Tim Harris, Longview Farming Trust, Badgebup, who bid with the assistance of Elders stud stock representative Russell McKay.
Along with purchasing the charity ram, Mr Harris secured another four rams to finish with a team of five at an average of $1440.
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