A passion for breeding robust, resilient and highly productive sheep at a low cost paid dividends for the Anderson Poll Merino stud at its annual on-property ram sale at Kojonup last week, where buyers pushed prices to a high of $9200 and rams sold to five States.
For nearly 70 years and across three generations, the Andersons have been unwavering in their objective to breed Poll Merinos that are highly productive - with quality wools, producing lots of lambs and meaty carcases - yet save time and money because they require less looking after.
With genetically embedded worm resistance and decades of running at high stocking rates while culling for undesirable traits, the progeny of Anderson rams need less drenching, jetting, crutching, lambing rounds, chemicals and handling.
As a result, buyers were out in force to secure the rams which were backed by a comprehensive number of Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBV).
This year's sale team of July/August-drop, paddock-raised rams had an average Dual Purpose Plus (DP+) index of 194, which is in the top 10 per cent on MerinoSelect.
The team average for post weaning weight (PWWT) was 8.9, yearling weight (YWT) 11.2, yearling worm egg count (YWEC) -55.2, weaning rate (WR) 0.27 and condition score (CS) 0.37.
These were all in the top 10pc, while the ASBVs for yearling eye muscle depth (YEMD) 2.0, yearling fibre diameter co-efficient of variation (YFDCV) -1.9 and yearling staple strength (YSS) were in the top 20pc.
The consistent competition, not only from the 28 registered buyers in the shed but also the 12 active online bidders on AuctionsPlus, logged in from Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and locally, ensured the Nutrien Livestock selling team - led by auctioneer Tiny Holly - had plenty of options to knock the rams down to.
When Mr Holly clapped down the final ram on offer, 158 of the 187 rams offered had sold to 25 buyers in the shed and another eight online under the hammer for an average of $1636, which was back $1465 on last year.
In comparison, in last year's sale - when both the markets and season conditions were better - the Andersons offered 189 rams and sold 178 to a stud record top of $52,000 and an average of $3101.
Nutrien Livestock, Kojonup, agent Troy Hornby said the final sale result was a very good one for the stud considering the environment in the sheep industry at the moment.
"The rams presented very well and were backed by an extensive list of ASBVs, which were appreciated by buyers," Mr Hornby said.
"Like past sales, we again saw demand from all parts of Australia.
"There was Eastern States' support both in the shed and on AuctionsPlus, plus there was good local enquiry which helped keep competition up right through the sale.
"However, compared to previous years, the support from a few buyers, for one reason or another, didn't want rams this year and this contributed to the clearance and prices being back on last year," Mr Hornby said.
"While the final result was back on previous years it was still a good sale for the Anderson family and the result was a testament to the family's breeding objectives and the effort they go to in terms of collecting all the data for the ASBVs."
The stud's $9200 top price was achieved two thirds of the way through the sale when Mr Holly offered up a white woolled, well put together ram with an impressive set of numbers in lot 122.
He took an opening bid of $2000 and from there it quickly rose as two NSW buyers fought it out on AuctionsPlus to secure it.
Eventually it was a buyer from Bathurst, NSW, who placed the successful $9200 bid.
Not only did the double Polled (PP), twin-born and raised ram, by Anderson 190590, display a good structure and a quality, long-stapled wool, it had the ASBVs to match.
It ranked in the top 1pc on MerinoSelect for WR (0.39), the DP+ index (222) and the Sustainable Merino High Rainfall (SMHR) index (168), as well as the top 5pc for PWWT (11.6) and YWT (13.4) plus top 10pc for late dag (LDAG) (-0.5), CS (0.37) and the MP+ index (184).
It also ranked in the top 20pc for YEMD, YWEC, yearling clean fleece weight (YCFW), yearling staple length (YSL) and YSS.
The same Bathurst-based buyer secured the sale's $5400 second top-priced ram, which was a PP, twin-born and raised son of Anderson 160729.
This ram ranks in the top 5pc for YWEC (-72.3), YFDCV (-2.5) and LDAG (-0.55) as well as the top 10pc for YSS (4.8), weaning rate (WR) (0.25), CS (0.4), DP+ index (193) and SMHR index (155).
It is also in the top 20pc for PWWT, YWT, YEDM, yearling fat (YFAT), YSL and early breech wrinkle (EBWR).
The Bathurst buyer rounded-out its purchases, securing a third ram at $3800 - which was also born and raised a twin that was ranked in the top 1pc for PWWT, YWT and the MP+ index.
Along with these three rams, there were another 22 rams sold via the AuctionsPlus platform where the catalogue received 1420 views.
These 22 rams sold to seven different buyers who combined with the top-priced buyer to place a total of 217 online bids across 53 lots during the auction.
The biggest buyers online in terms of numbers were two Victorian buyers - a buyer from Edenhope purchased six to a top of $2600 and an average of $1367, while one from Douglas picked up five at an average of $1960 and top of $3000.
The third top priced ram at $4400 was secured by Tasmanian buyers John, Nancy and Emily Bell, Sillwood Pastoral, Carrick, who were attending the sale for the first time having previously bought online.
The Bells paid $4400 for the sixth ram offered, which was PP, twin (born and raised) by Anderson 210049.
This ram is in top 5pc for YWEC, YFDCV, WR and the DP+ index as well as the top 10pc for CS and the SMHR index.
In addition to this ram, the Bells purchased another two rams to finish with three at an average of $2267.
Mr Bell said they were chasing rams with good feet and free-growing, long-stapled white wools.
"They also had to have good worm egg count, breech wrinkle and dag score figures as we are working towards a non-mulesing flock," Mr Bell said.
"We have purchased from Anderson for a number of years and like the stud, as it has good performance data which goes with the rams.
"From past experience, the best of the rams we have purchased have performed exceptionally well."
This year, the Bells will join 3000 ewes to Poll Merino sires.
The next best price was $4000, recorded twice.
The first to pay $4000 was return buyer the Wiese family, RL & CM Wiese, Narrogin, who also purchased a second sire at $2400.
The Wiese family paid $4000 for a PP, twin-born and raised sire, which was by Anderson 200293 and out of a ewe lamb.
It ranks in the top 1pc for YWEC as well as the DP+ and SMHR indexes.
The other buyers to go to $4000 were Steve Phillips and his son Sam, Yarrawonga Plus stud, Harden, NSW, who bid with the assistance of Nutrien Livestock Breeding representative Mitchell Crosby.
Heading to the the Phillips family's NSW property at $4000 was a ram by Anderson 160729 that ranks in the top 1pc for YWT and top 5pc for PWWT, YWEC, YFDCV, WR and CS.Yarrawonga also purchased a ram that was in the top 1pc for PWWT for $3800 and one that was in the top 1pc for YWT, WR, CS and the DP+ index for $3400.
Steve Phillips said it was the first time they had attended the sale in person, having previously bought once before in 2021 over the phone.
"The rams we bought back in 2021 have fitted well into our flock, so we are hoping these three rams will do the same," Mr Phillips said.
"As these rams will be used in our Yarrawonga Plus stud, we were looking for rams with high PWWT and YWT figures as well as negative fibre diameters.
"They also had to have the right phenotype for our sheep, we wanted good structured rams, with good barrels and good staple lengths.
"Their wools also had to be bright and white due to the high rainfall area we are in."
Along with buying for Yarrawonga, Mr Crosby purchased for two other buyers that were influential in the sale either in terms of the prices they paid or the numbers they bought.
In terms of numbers, Mr Crosby purchased 14 rams to a top of $1200 twice and average of $1029 for an undisclosed Great Southern buyer who ended up being the volume buyer on the day.
While in terms of prices, he purchased four rams for H Klem & D Taylor, Crookwell, NSW, to a top of $3800 and an average of $2200.
The $3800 ram ranks in the top 1pc for WR and the DP+ index as well as top 5pc for PWWT, YWT, YEMD, YFDCV, YSS and CS.
The next biggest buyers in the shed behind Mr Crosby were Hugh and Sue Jarvis, Aramis Trust, Balmoral, Victoria.
The Jarvis family, who were buying rams from the stud for the first time, having used semen in the past, finished the auction with 12 rams to their name to a top of $3800 and an average of $2183.
They went to $3800 for a ram which was in the top 1pc for YWEC.
Also in their team were rams at $3200 which was in the top 10pc for WR, LDAG, CS, DP+ index and SMHR index and $3000 for a ram that is in the top 1pc YEMD.
Mr Jarvis said they were chasing rams with fine, white wools as they are in a high rainfall area.
"They also had to have good YWEC, breech wrinkle and late dag ASBVs," Mr Jarvis said.
"We stopped mulesing three years ago so these values are important to us and we will speed up the process by mating all our 4000 ewes to Merinos this year.
"Previously, we have mated our older ewes to Composites."
There were another three other buyers to purchase double figure teams in the sale.
Return buyer Rory Blandford, PR & S Blandford, Meerlieu, Victoria, who has been buying from the stud since 2013, purchased 10 rams to a top of $2400 and an average of $1420, while the Katanning Research Station, Katanning, averaged $1340 over a team of 10 that topped at $2200.
The final buyer to secure a double figure team was Simmond Fabrications Pty Ltd, Mundaring, which worked its way through the catalogue and went home with 10 rams to a top of $1800 and an average of $1180.
Another influential buyer in terms of numbers was Wandibirrup Grazing Co, Beaufort River, which averaged $1289 over nine rams that topped at $2600.
There were several other buyers that had an impact on the sale, buying smaller teams at the top end of the market and they included the Bigwood family, Benachie Pty Ltd, Frankland River, purchasing six rams to a high of $3400 and an average of $2000, while Clanmea Farm, Kojonup, went home with three to a top of $3000 and an average of $2067.
Also in this category was VC Pascoe, Arthur River, which averaged $1950 over four sires and Russell Doak, who picked up five at an $1800 average price.
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