Buyers were spoilt for choice and value for money at the 23rd annual Riverbend Poll Dorset and Border Leicester ram and ewe sale on-property at Eneabba last week.
The Patmore family offered its traditional quality catalogue of commercially presented Poll Dorset and Border Leicester rams and first cross Border Leicester-Merino maiden ewes for buyers to objectively select from for their terminal and maternal pre-mating joining requirements.
Unfortunately, challenging seasonal conditions among areas of Riverbend's client base combined with subdued sheep markets influenced reduced buying support at the sale from recent years which discounted results across the board.
Consistent with most northern ram sales this season, the Patmores anticipated a reduction in demand and adjusted their ram numbers accordingly with 80 Poll Dorset and Border Leicester rams up for grabs.
And a modest buying register descending from the northern and Central Wheatbelt, Central Midlands coast and south to the outer metro agricultural area and South West could mostly be quite selective throughout the sale and fill their requirements with the market strongly in their favour.
Warm spring conditions ensured buyers, agents and sale supporters enjoyed cold refreshments and the delicious hospitality from the extended Patmore family and close friends after the sale.
At the end of selling, the Elders selling team had sold 38 rams (48 per cent) of both breeds at auction for an overall average of $709.
Poll Dorsets were the strongest of the two breeds with 27 of 40 rams (68pc) selling under the hammer for an average of $748, while the team of 40 Border Leicester rams found the going tougher with 11 rams (28pc) selling at auction at a $614 average.
The complete clearance of the feature draft of 1200 first cross Border Leicester-Merino 1.5yo maiden ewes was a positive which sold for an average of $61.
Compared to last year's sale in more favourable seasonal and market climates, the ewe average dropped $124 where there was also a total clearance 1280 ewes for an average of $185, while the overall ram average was down $433 where a combined total of 108 of 133 rams (81pc) sold at auction for an average of $1142.
In the breed breakdown, the team of Poll Dorsets was back $361 on average from last year where 48 of 60 rams (80pc) sold for an $1109 average while 60 of 73 Border Leicester rams (82pc) sold at an average of $1168, down $554 on average this year.
Elders auctioneer and Gingin representative Graeme Curry said while the sheep presented well, it was a tough sale that perfectly snapshot the situation the industry is currently in.
"The combination of unfavourable seasonal and nervous market conditions," Mr Curry said.
"However the Patmores met the market in all circumstances resulting in a complete clearance of the ewes and reasonable clearance of Poll Dorset rams.
"There was limited buying support for the Border Leicesters but this wasn't a reflection of the quality of the sheep."
The outstanding offering of 1200 young Border Leicester-Merino commercial ewes presented in five run-of-the-gate drafts of varying totals got the sale underway.
Volume buyer at the sale Grant Lupton, Nutrien Livestock, Wongan Hills, representing 19-year Riverbend supporters AN Rose & Co, Busselton, collected the first two lines totalling 350 and 220 head for $60 per head.
Elders stud stock manager Tim Spicer, was bidding via phone with Brendan Millar, Elders, Margaret River, on behalf of client Glenbrae Farms, Rosa
Brook, and paid the $64 top price for 200 ewes.
The balance of the ewes sold for $60 with a line of 230 ewes heading to the Carnamah paddocks of Yandee Farm, while Gingin graziers GJ & M Read took a draft of 200 ewes.
The selling team then made its way into the ram selling shed kicking off with the team of Poll Dorsets.
It was again Mr Lupton who dominated the clerking sheets on behalf of the Rose family which finished with a team of nine Poll Dorset rams selected for clean points, feet and leg structure and depth/length of body.
Mr Lupton bid from $600 to the sale's $1100 top price for his selections with the top-priced ram penned in lot 30 - also the lucky buyer prize ram selected by Elders, Mingenew agent Ross Tyndale-Powell prior to the sale as his pick of the sale.
The lucky buyer prize was generously sponsored by the Elders Carnamah branch with a 20-litre drum of Pastoral Ag's Moxilab oral drench valued at almost $500.
Jurien Bay graziers and regulars at the sale M & B Errington added five Poll Dorset rams to their battery mostly for $900, while Cosgrove Farming Company, Mingenew, also paid to a $900 top price for a team of five rams.
Mr Tyndale-Powell was again busy filling a number of Poll Dorset ram orders and purchased four rams for Maxwest Classic, Carnamah, and two each for Spencer Farming, Mingenew and L Brown, Gidgegannup, at value.
Rounding out the sale was the run of Border Leicester rams with two buyers sharing the spoils.
Return buyer of volume numbers SW Richards & Co, Jurien Bay, went to script with a team of seven rams costing $600 each, while DM Duggan & Co, Yerecoin, bid from $600 and to the breed's $750 top price for four rams.
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