The continued interest in shedding breeds was highlighted once again at last week's Nutrien Livestock Maternal Ewe Sale on AuctionsPlus, where prices hit a high of $252 for 1.5-year-old UltraWhite ewes.
Fourteen bidders from Western Australia and South Australia were active during the online sale, which featured 10,025 ewes that were offered in 57 lines.
But like other ewe sales this spring, demand was back on previous years - which resulted in reduced activity in the sale compared to last year.
During the sale, which lasted one hour and 20 minutes, there were 340 bids placed on 23 of the lines offered and this resulted in these 23 lines selling to 10 different WA buyers and one SA buyer.
At the conclusion of the sale, 23 lines had been sold, totalling 3983 ewes, for an average price of $155. This was back $229 on last year's sale average.
In last year's sale there were 5524 ewes sold in 29 lines for a $384 average.
UltraWhite ewes dominated the numbers in the offering, with 5624 ewes offered - ranging from lambs through to 5.5yo ewes - and like last year, the sale's top price came from this section of the catalogue.
Topping the sale at $252 was a line of 100 red tag UltraWhite ewes from return vendors JP & JL Broun, Chocolate Hills, Beverley.
This line of 15-16mo ewes had an average liveweight of 71.6 kilograms when assessed on October 16 and were based on Hillcroft Farms bloodlines.
In the catalogue they were described by AuctionsPlus accredited Level 2 assessor Andrew O'Connor, Nutrien Livestock, Goomalling, to be an outstanding line of pure UltraWhite ewes, which will not disappoint.
"They exhibit a large body and are primed for an exceptional mating," Mr O'Connor said.
The line was purchased by Nutrien Livestock Breeding representative Roy Addis for a repeat buyer at Kukerin.
The next best price for 1.5yo UltraWhite ewes was $200 bid by a buyer at Bordertown, SA.
The SA account went to $200 for an excellent line of 383 Hillcroft Farms blood, 1.5yo ewes from EF & SL Blechynden, East Pingelly.
This line had an average liveweight of 73.7kg when assessed on October 17.
Also sold out of the East Pingelly area was a draft of 96 1.5yo UltraWhite ewes from AC & JE Cunningham.
This line, which is based on Hillcroft Farms bloodlines and had an average weight of 64.7kg, sold for $174 to Nutrien Livestock, Esperance, agent Darren Chatley.
The Condingup-based Hoggart Farmily Trust sold three lines of 1.5yo ewes, which were all based on Hillcroft Farms bloodlines.
The first line contained 191 head which averaged 57.5kg while the other two lines were both made up of 173 ewes each with an average weight of 54.4kg.
All three lines were purchased by Mr Chatley at $160.
Knipe Farming Co, Spencers Brook, which has been running shedding sheep for about 15 years, sold two lines of 1.5yo UltraWhite ewes based on Hillcroft Farms.
The enterprise has been using UltraWhite rams for six years, having initially started its shedding flock on White Dorper and Kojak genetics.
The first line of 200 sold at $165, while the second line of 200 made $163.
Both lines, which averaged 48.1kg, were purchased by Nutrien Livestock, Kojonup and Boyup Brook, representative Geoff Daw.
There was a good number of UltraWhite ewes lambs sold during the auction and these sold to the sale's second top price of $250.
Hitting the $250 price tag were 130 ewe lambs dropped in April and May from Davina Enterprises, Konnongorring, which has been buying rams from Hillcroft Farms since 2014.
The 6-7mo ewes, which were weaned at the beginning of September, had an average liveweight of 53.7kg and were described in the catalogue by Mr O'Connor to be a genuine line of ewe lambs ready to join.
He said the ewes presented a great opportunity to purchase very productive ewes to expand or start an UltraWhite breeding flock.
The line was purchased by Nutrien Livestock, Wongan Hills, representative Grant Lupton.
The Bradford family, Hillcroft Farms, Popanyinning, sold three lines of ewes lambs which all contained 100 head.
All three lines sold at $180 - two went to a Tambellup-based buyer while one was secured by a buyer based at Narrogin.
The ewe lambs offered by Hillcroft Farms were dropped between March 15 and April 15 and were weaned in the middle of June.
They had a liveweight range between 53.3-55.2kg.
Rounding out the vendors to sell UltraWhite ewe lambs was Bowey Ventures, Kulin, which has been using Hillcroft Farms rams exclusively since the stud's inception in 2012.
The first line the Kulin enterprise sold was made up of 90 ewe lambs that were dropped in January and had an average liveweight of 60.8kg.
It was purchased by AWN Livestock representative Jay Macdonald at $170.
Its second line comprised 91 April-drop ewes weighing 48.1kg and it sold at $132 to a Kendenup-based buyer.
There was one line of older UltraWhite ewes sold and it made $100 selling to an Esperance buyer.
The line of 182 2.5-5.5yo ewes was sold by Hoggart Family Trust.
There was a small number of pure UltraWhite-Kojak ewes sold and these topped at $170 for a line of 1.5yo ewes.
Gaining the $170 top price twice was Rocky Creek Grazing, Kojonup, which sold two lines for this value to a Gnowangerup-based buyer.
The first line contained 205 ewes which had an average liveweight of 69kg, while the second line contained 218 head with an average liveweight of 71.2kg.
The ewes had been bred from Hillcroft Farms UltraWhite and BreedersBEST Genetics Kojak bloodlines.
There were also two lines of 2.5yo UltraWhite-Kojak ewes sold during the auction.
The two lines were offered by Knipe Farming Co, Northam and purchased by a Kendenup buyer at $163.
These ewes had an average liveweight of 61.3kg and all had had a lamb in 2023.
There were two lines of 1.5yo White Dorper-Kojak ewes sold from the offering by RF Fisher & Co, Dale.
Both lines comprised 180 ewes and they both sold at $130 to Mr Daw.
These ewes were based on Kaya, Haseley and Jilakin Downs White Dorper bloodlines, as well as BreedersBEST Genetics Kojak blood and Hillcroft Farms and Chocolate Hills UIltraWhite blood.
The ewes had an average liveweight of 59kg.
Wickepin-based TKW Leeson sold a line of UltraWhite-Dorper 1.5yo ewes for $70 to an Esperance buyer.
This line of 343 ewes had an average liveweight of 62.4kg and were based on Kaya Dorper and Hillcroft Farms blood.
Kojonup vendor JR & SH O'Halloran saw its line of 188 Kojak-White Dorper ewes make $80 when they sold to Mr Daw.
The 1.5yo ewes had an average liveweight of 61.3kg.
Nutrien Livestock Breeding representative and sale co-ordinator Roy Addis said, given the current market, the sale was a success.
"While the prices were back on last year and the clearance was down, I still think it was successful as the sale continues to give us national exposure as we continue to present a quality line of maternal sheep," Mr Addis said.
"I believe what sold, sold exceptionally well and showed there is still demand out there for shedding sheep.
"The sale certainly showed there is good demand for UltraWhite ewes given the percentage sold.
"Heavy ewe lambs with suitable weights to join met good support while ewes over 1.5-years-old across all categories met with solid buying support.
"We have sold another 1360 mature ewes since the auction closed which has helped improve the clearance."
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