Values reached $8000 for a stud Merino ram to highlight varied results at the 46th annual Angenup on-property Merino and Poll Merino ram sale at Kojonup last week.
The Norrish family offered a heavily adjusted catalogue of 156 Merino and Poll Merino rams following several clients either reducing their ram requirements or not requiring rams at all this year - in response to the current climate of Western Australia's sheep industry and unforeseen circumstances.
And, while numbers were trimmed to be more in line with forecast demand, quality wasn't compromised - with the family presenting a consistent team of rams that buyers have come to know and trust with rich stylish white wools and constitutions synonymous with the Angenup brand.
There were 28 registered buyers from a diverse spread of topographies from the central Midlands and central Wheatbelt to the lower South West, with strong representation from the local and wider Great Southern areas.
Among the missing names was prominent figure at the top-end of the catalogue for more than 25 years, Tom Marshall, Cranbrook, who was unfortunately unable to attend due to his health.
But a string of Angenup's key long-time clients were on hand, some original stud supporters, who competed strongly on their selections, particularly in the front half of the catalogue - which gradually became increasingly selective as the sale wore on.
At the end of selling, the Elders team and auctioneer Nathan King had sold 145 rams at a 93 per cent clearance rate for an overall average of $1774.
This was back $358 on average compared to last year, when 229 rams sold for an average of $2132.
In the breakdown, 89 of 100 Merino rams sold at auction for an average of $1717, which was down $451 on last year's sale during which 147 horned rams sold for a $2168 average.
Angenup's polls continue to gain traction, with all 56 rams selling under the hammer for a $1864 average - down $204 on last year's average of $2068 from 82 sold.
The sale kicked-off with a run of 10 March shorn prepared rams averaging 20.1-micron and it didn't take long for the sale's top price to be recorded with the powerful Merino sire penned in lot one knocked down to Roger Glover, Mallibee stud, Wannamal, for the sale's top price of $8000.
The 120kg ram by Angenup 265 displayed wool tests of -1.3pc micron (percentage against average), 3 standard deviation (SD), 99.8pc comfort factor (CF) and 118pc greasy fleece weight (GFW).
Mallibee stud consultant Bruce Cameron said he first saw the ram at the Rabobank WA Sheep Expo & Ram Sale at Katanning, where it was penned with the Angenup supreme exhibit March shorn ram that sold for $35,000.
"It stood out with its size and outlook and with Charinga in its background it appealed for Mallibee," Mr Cameron said.
"It ticked a lot of boxes, including outstanding wool quality with good length of body."
The majority balance of the sale team were May shorn, paddock-run rams averaging 18.4-micron and 105kg bodyweight and it was a poll ram catalogued deep into the sale in lot 84 that created a stir before being knocked down for the $5800 top Poll Merino ram price to decades-long buyers WB & BM Schulz, Williams.
The 104kg ram was ET-bred by Darriwell Apollo and tested -0.3pc micron, 4 SD, 99.2pc CF and 112pc GFW.
Buyer Simon Schulz, who attended the sale with his son Manton, said they will mate a total of 5500 Merino ewes in the coming joining, half of which are self-replacing to Merino rams and the other half to White Suffolk rams.
He said being ET-bred, their new ram is an outcross bloodline for their nucleus breeding program producing their own replacement flock rams.
"Very good structured and bodied ram with wool quality and nourishment," Mr Schulz said.
The next highest price of $3800 was paid by other return nucleus sire buyers of 10 years Richard and Mark Schinzig, JR & G Schinzig & Sons, Moodiarrup, for a March shorn Poll ram in lot six.
The thumping 141kg ram was ET-bred by Angenup 30, which goes back to Mianelup Bubba and tested +1.2 micron, 3.3 SD, 99.2pc CF and 130pc GFW.
Patrick and Helen Williamson, PH & HG Williamson, Williams, have been supporting the Angenup stud since 1987 and returned for a team of 15 Merino rams.
In the past, the Williamsons haven't been deterred from bidding up on their selections and this year was no exception where they averaged a healthy $2067 across the team and paid to the sale's next highest price of $3800 for their opening selection in lot 13 containing a 113kg Angenup syndicate bred ram testing +0.6pc micron, 4 SD, 99.6pc CF and 125pc GFW.
Another return buyer at the top-end of the market, PS Climie & Co, Cranbrook, went to script with a team of four Poll Merino rams averaging $2450 and paying to a $3200 top price for a 103kg ET-bred May shorn ram testing +1.3pc micron, 4 SD, 98.7pc CF and 130pc GFW.
Angenup buyer of 21 years Ben Fowler, Congeling Park Grazing Company, Williams, was again the sale's most influential buyer amassing a team of 28 rams (17 Merino and 11 Poll Merino) paying from $1000 to $3200 for an average of $1886 with his top price reserved for a 122kg ET-bred March shorn poll ram in lot nine testing +0.8pc micron, 3.9 SD, 99.2pc CF and 130pc GFW.
The largest exclusive poll ram buyer was Matt Nield, Blackwood Grazing, Karridale, who finished the sale with a team of 15 rams costing from $1000 to $2300.
The next largest team of exclusive Merino rams was put together by original Angenup stud buyer M & L Leusciatti & Sons, Kojonup.
Rob Leusciatti averaged a strong $2064 across his team of 14 Merino rams and, while he landed a couple of cheaper rams late in the sale, Mr Leusciatti was prepared to raise his sights on his selections - including bidding to a $3000 top price on multiple occasions.
Mr Leusciatti is remaining bullish about the industry and has expanded his sheep numbers after a recent purchase of a property at Congella, west of Kojonup.
"We don't see a need to change, it's a cycle," he said.
"We've always produced sheep and wool and it may take some time but I think producers are going to benefit from staying in the industry."
The Leusciattis will join 3500 Merino ewes to Merino rams and another 1500 to terminal sires.
Mr Leusciatti said they have managed to expand their numbers by retaining older ewes and their shearing contractor couldn't believe the wool cut and quality coming from their older ewes up to 8.5-years-old.
Another buyer to build a double figure team was Twin Oaks Farming, Wandering, with 12 Merino and Poll Merino rams at an average of $1767, while three buyers with the next largest team of six rams were Russell McKay, Elders stud stock, for CD & LA Turner, Corrigin, Riverdale Grazing Company, Changerup and Troy Hornby, Nutrien Livestock, Kojonup, for Ramit Farms, Boyup Brook.
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