A chance to purchase quality woolled rams was missed by buyers at the Rintoul family's Dongiemon and Tilba Tilba on-property ram sale at Williams on Monday.
Like other sales held through the traditional sheep growing region this year, the sale lacked buying support due to a lack of confidence in the industry from growers and did not reflect the excellent quality of rams on offer.
The reduced buying gallery compared to previous years had an impact on both prices and clearance, but the regular buyers who attended appreciated the quality and used the opportunity to purchase an extra couple of rams at values which were in their favour.
The buying support that was seen in the sale came from a range of environments including the Great Southern, the coastal plain, the hills east of Perth and the South Coast as well as New South Wales highlighting the versatility, adaptability and the performance of the Rintouls' sheep in a range of environments.
When the Nutrien Livestock and AWN selling teams stepped down from selling at the end of the sale, they had cleared 45 of the 127 Dongiemon and Tilba Tilba rams offered under the hammer for an average of $969, which was back $339.
Last year the Rintouls sold 106 from 166 rams under the hammer at an average of $1308.
They cleared 29 from 75 Dongiemon Merino rams to a top of $1500 and an average of $966, while in the Tilba Tilba side of the catalogue 16 Merino and Poll Merino rams sold from 52 offered to a sale high $3000 and an average of $975.
The Tilba Tilba offering, which was sold through AWN, may have been the second offering, but it was where the day's $3000 top-priced ram was found.
Attracting the $3000 bid was the stud's team leader and it was knocked down to the WA College of Agriculture (WACOA) - Harvey, which has been buying from the Rintoul family for close to 40 years.
The upstanding, March shorn Poll Merino ram had late August wool test results of 18.1 micron, 3.2 SD, 17.7 CV and 99.9 per cent comfort factor (CF) to go with late May scans of 3.7mm fat and 25.9mm eye muscle depth (EMD).
WACOA Harvey sheep technical officer Steve Adams, who was accompanied at the sale by seven of the college's year 11 students, said he first saw the ram at the Rabobank WA Sheep Expo & Merino Ram Sale at Katanning in August and was impressed.
"I then saw him at the Perth Royal Show and thought he had continued to come on," Mr Adams said.
"He has good structure and feet and carries a white, bright wool which is uniform in its crimp.
"He will suit our conditions extremely well."
The ram will be used over half the ewes in the college's Mornington stud flock which currently consists of 120 ewes.
In addition to the stud flock, the college will mate another 250 ewes to Poll Merino rams and 150 Poll Merino ewes to Poll Dorset rams this year.
Along with buying the top-priced ram, the college also purchased another four rams from the Tilba Tilba Poll Merino line-up to finish with a team of five at an average of $1360.
Its other purchases included the second and third top-priced Tilba Tilba rams at $1200 and $1000.
It paid $1200 for a ram which had wool figures of 17.9 micron, 2.9 SD, 16.2 CV and 99.9pc CF.
The next biggest buyer in the Tilba Tilba Poll Merino offering was B & TC Lamont, Tambellup, which purchased three rams all at $800.
In the Tilba Tilba Merino offering two buyers operated.
AWN wool specialist Steve Squire purchased three sires all at $800 for return New South Wales buyer Rowen Matchett, Trunkey.
These three rams all had 100pc CFs to go with micron figures of 16.9, 19.2 and 18.8.
The other buyer in the Merino offering was Kallarroo Park, Walmsley and it purchased two rams both at $800.
Mr Squire said it was a tough sale and the final result reflected the lack of confidence in the sheep and wool industry at the moment.
"It was an excellent line-up of fine wool rams presented by the Rintoul family and it was disappointing to see them not sold," Mr Squire said.
"Buyers that did purchase picked up some high quality fine wool rams at extremely good values while past clients that didn't operate certainly missed an opportunity to buy some excellent fine wool genetics.
"AWN is very proud to be involved with Tilba Tilba, which is a long standing superfine stud producing quality Italian topmaking wools."
Leading the charge in the Dongiemon catalogue, which was offered through Nutrien Livestock, was the third ram offered when it was knocked down to Kevin Winspear, NH Winspear & Co, Broomehill, who has been buying from the stud for more than 30 years.
The stylish crimped, white wool Merino sire had wool figures of 19.9 micron, 3.3 SD, 16.6 CV and 99.7pc CF to go with scans of 26mm EMD and 2.3mm fat.
Mr Winspear said the ram had a good white wool on a very good frame as well as even wool figures.
The top-priced ram wasn't Mr Winspear's only purchase, by the end of the run he had purchased another six rams to finish with seven at an average of $1257.
Also heading to Mr Winspear's property were the $1450 second top-priced ram and two rams at the $1400 equal third top price from the Dongiemon offering.
The $1450 ram had wool figures of 21.4 micron, 3.5 SD, 16.4 CV and 99.3pc CF and scans of 2.3mm fat and 20mm EMD.
Mr Winspear said he liked buying from Dongiemon as its rams breed an even line of progeny and also because they were good wool producers.
"The Rintouls also provide good service with Stuart coming out to class our flock every year," Mr Winspear said.
This year he is looking to join 1300 ewes to Merino sires for an April/May lambing.
The Winspear's mature sheep average 19 micron and cut 6.5 to 7kg per head.
Return buyer of more than 20 years Mike Burges, Commodine Farms, Cuballing, who headed to the sale with the thought of only buying two or three rams, ended up the day's volume buyer purchasing eight rams to $1200 and an average of $850.
Mr Burges said he initially only intended to buy two to three rams but decided to purchase more as he saw the sale as a good opportunity to buy quality rams at value for money.
"I was chasing the more free-growing types and buying more today will allow me to get rid of some of my older rams and inject in new genetics quicker which will help my flock improve at a faster rate," Mr Burges said.
"The Dongiemon bloodline has really benefited my flock since I changed over to it more than 20 years ago.
"From where I was to where I am now has a lot to do with the Dongiemon genetics in combination with management.
"Since changing we have lowered our micron and also improved our wool cut and lambing percentage.
"They are good wool producing sheep."
Another return buyer to show confidence in the Dongiemon genetics was client of more than 15 years GJ & RE Abbott, Duranillin, which secured five rams to a top of $1100 and an average of $960.
Nutrien Livestock Breeding representative Mitchell Crosby said the Rintouls presented an excellent line-up of rams from their Dongiemon stud following a good season in the area.
"It was a hard sale as a result of a few clients not buying this year as they have either decided to reduce their joining numbers or not join at all due to the current position of the sheep market, however the buyers that did buy got quality rams at very good values," Mr Crosby said.
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