The Corker family celebrated a successful result at its inaugural Blackwood SheepMaster annual on-property ram sale at Kulikup last Friday.
After a mighty second public auction last year at a combined sale at Venturon Livestock, Boyup Brook, the time was right to move on-farm and host their own stand-alone sale.
To meet growing demand for shedding sheep, the Corkers presented an increased catalogue of 73 commercially prepared, well-grown and shedded SheepMaster polled rams.
With depth right through the catalogue, the sale team didn't disappoint the 21 registered buyers at the sale coming from far and wide, with strong interest from local and surrounding areas and stretching to the Central Midlands coast, Central, Eastern and North Eastern Wheatbelts and the South West.
The sale was also interfaced on AuctionsPlus and attracted 1210 catalogue views with 13 registered buyers and 25 viewers logged into the sale, with five online bidders placing 104 bids across 19 lots and five rams knocked down to two New South Wales buyers and a North Eastern Wheatbelt buyer.
Prior to the sale, Blackwood stud co-principal Phil Corker said on behalf of his wife Ginette and two daughters, they were completely humbled by the support from new and return buyers and Elders.
"It's great to see familiar and new faces here," Mr Corker said.
"Sheep are our passion and it's what Ginette and I do.
"Tough times in the industry which we have seen before but I know you (buyers) have a long-term view on it.
"I tip my hat to you for your resilience as farmers and we will get through it."
After the formalities, the Elders selling team and auctioneer James Culleton got to work and by sale's end, 69 rams (95 per cent) had sold at auction for a solid average of $2461.
Capping off the strong result for the Corkers was the overlooked rams being quickly snapped-up following the sale to seal a complete clearance.
In a more favourable market and seasonal conditions last year, the Corkers sold 60 of 61 rams at auction for an impressive average of $3055.
Reflecting the depth of quality through the catalogue was the sale's top price not eventuating until lot 26, when a stud buyer from Cobar in Central Western NSW, operating on AuctionsPlus, outlasted stiff competition from a local buyer with a winning $5600 bid.
The big 129 kilogram ram was the heaviest in the sale with the April-drop ram sired by H97 recording raw data percentages against the flock average of 131 per cent weaning weight (WWT), 114pc post weaning weight (PWWT), 105pc eye muscle depth (EMD) and 99pc fat along with 38cm scrotal circumference (SC).
This same buyer had earlier purchased a 118kg Buster son for $3700.
The sale's $4800 second top-priced ram also sold through the AuctionsPlus platform and was one of two rams purchased by an online Beacon buyer.
Their top bid went to a May-drop Monarch son in lot 12 with the 118kg ram recording measurements of 103pc WWT, 131pc PWWT, 120pc EMD and 117pc fat with 40cm SC.
Rounding out the online purchases was $4300 paid by a buyer from Orange, NSW, for lot four containing a 105kg May-drop ram by Apollo 73 (purchased in syndicate for $85,000) recording figures of 113pc WWT, 110pc PWWT, 111pc EMD and 108pc fat.
The sale's most influential buyer again this year was WM & CM Robertson, Boyup Brook, finishing with a team of 16 rams and in the pursuit of quality were prepared to pay for their selections - including being the losing bidder on the top-priced ram.
They averaged a healthy $2619 across their large team and paid to the sale's $4400 third top price for a 118kg Buster son in lot 13 with the May-drop twin-born ram measuring 150pc WWT and 120pc PWWT.
The Robertson family is transitioning towards a full shedding flock with its Merino ewes joined to terminal sires and run out cast for age and replaced with SheepMasters.
Wayde Robertson said they would join just less than 2000 SheepMaster ewes in the coming mating to lamb in June-July as they build towards 4000 and 5000 SheepMaster ewes over the next three years.
"(We are) focusing on quality rams to get the SheepMaster ewe numbers where we want them," Mr Robertson said.
"We are enjoying the low maintenance and easy care of the breed with good fertility and growth rates of the lambs."
Quairading mixed farmers Lyle Brown, LR & KA Brown and Scott Richards, S & S Richards, attended the sale together and are also both transitioning towards a full shedding sheep flock.
Mr Brown, who farms on the eastern boundary, was among the volume buyers with a team of 12 rams paying an average of $2542 and to a $3700 top price for lot 18, a 103kg (114pc) May-drop ram by Apollo 73.
The ram recorded scan percentages of 103pc PWWT, 100pc EMD and 99pc fat with 35cm SC.
It is Mr Brown's third year buying Blackwood SheepMaster rams, which are crossed with UltraWhites, Dorpers and Kojak ewes for a June lambing as they breed towards a SheepMaster ewe flock.
Mr Brown said they return to Blackwood for their quality of breeding, size, shape and shedding and the Corkers are a genuine family to deal with.
"We are transitioning at the moment, selling Merino ewes out and buying in shedding ewes," Mr Brown said.
"We still want to run pastures and livestock with an easy management animal.
"So far, the SheepMasters have been really good.
"They have small birthweights and size but really grow quickly and blossom once they're established.
"They are very heavy for their size and weigh well.
"They are docile animals in the paddock and we have put up quite a bit of hot wire to protect the existing infrastructure from the effects of rubbing."
In his second year buying shedding rams, Mr Richards finished with four rams at a $2675 average and paid to $3400 for lot 13 containing a 103kg April-drop Buster son with 125pc WWT, 102pc PWWT, 105pc EMD and 114pc fat.
The Richards family farms on the western boundary in the Beverley and Quairading shires and made the decision a few years ago to change over.
"We gradually got a few ewes to swap to shedders within three years," Mr Richards said.
"But because of prices at the moment, we will hang onto some Merino ewes and wait for opportunities.
"Being a vigorous and robust animal they can get a bit of a bad wrap to keep in but I think it's more to do with your feed on offer than fencing.
"We have almost zero lambing problems with them."
A few other buyers also collected four rams at the sale, including return buyers M & M Keightley, Boyup Brook, averaging $2150 and paying to $3500 for a younger 82kg August-drop ram by W200261 at the end of the sale measuring 100pc WWT, 97pc PWWT, 108pc EMD and 130pc fat.
Kebaringup Farm, Borden, averaged $2700 for its four rams costing to $3100 on two occasions, while W & W Yilgarnia's, Redmond, team of four rams averaged $2100 with a $3300 top price.
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