Ella Matta celebrates 40 years with state record bang

At their annual Ella Matta on-property sale at Parndana, Andrew, Tracie and Jamie Heinrich were quietly and proudly celebrating the 40th year that their family has been breeding White Suffolk sheep, started by Andrew’s father Peter back in 1979 at Bute. However, that celebration went off with a huge bang soon after the sale started when they shattered records with their lot 8 White Suffolk sale ram.

Following inspection, Ella Matta 180100ET became the choice of many people at the sale, but through enquiries and the viewing of videos, it also attracted the interest of quite a few connected online through Auctions Plus, or via the phone. This resulted in intense bidding on this ram before being knocked down for $29,000 to a syndicate of SA buyers; Steve, Ros, Greg and Selena Funke, Bundara Downs stud, Western Flat, Anthony, Suzanne and Cameron Ferguson, Anna Villa stud, Weetulta, and Troy and Nette Fischer, Ashmore stud, Wasleys.

EM180100 ET has exceptionally good phenotype and balance, while also being in the top 10% nationally for eight traits and indices, highlighted by 155.0 for LEQ, 154.1 for TCP and 224.7 for C+. It also had the bonus of being -30.0 for WEC (worm egg count). The underbidder was David Pipkorn, Depta Grove stud, Jeparit, Vic who had an exceptionally good sale just the day before.

This is most certainly an Ella Matta record, surpassing the $16,000 they received two years ago when Paul Goerling, WA purchased a top White Suffolk ram that year, but it is also believed to be a SA state record for on-property meat sheep breed sales.

The huge sale catalogue of 211 White Suffolk rams, 40 Maternal Composite rams and 54 Poll Merino rams attracted a big crowd that included 74 registered bidders from four states, plus those registered through Auctions Plus, and saw 295 find new homes in a 97% clearance at a terrific average of $1456.

The Ella Matta quality is becoming more widely recognised these days because of their extremely high ranking within the Lambplan recording system, plus the success past stud sale clients have had using Ella Matta genetics. Every one of the White Suffolk rams in the catalogue was benchmarked in the top 20% of sires across all breeds nationally for Lambplan performance levels. The lowest ranked ram on the Carcase Plus index was 200.8, ranging up to a high of 239.6.

While the record top price is a worthy reason for the Heinrichs to now celebrate more loudly, the many commercial lamb producers who were able to purchase rams of this quality in the $800 to $1200 range should also be celebrating.

With record lamb prices and very bright future industry projections, the flock ram portion of the White Suffolk draft sold at great value. Five rams went to studs or ram breeding flocks, these averaging $8910 on the back of the record priced ram, but when these are taken out the 206 flock rams averaged $1313; less than last year’s White Suffolk average. Sixty six of the draft sold for $1000 or less; exceptional value for their quality.

This fantastic White Suffolk offering prompted auctioneer Leo Redden to say, “This is a catalogue littered with industry trait leaders and what you see in the catalogue is what you see in the ring; and we like that.”

The first higher price was the lot 2 ram, EM180160 ET, sired by Farrer 160068 and a full flush ET brother to the ultimate sale topper. This ram was snapped up by Dale Paxton, Gosse for his White Suffolk flock with a winning $6750 bid.

Warren Thompson, Hedingham stud, Wickepin, WA has purchased via phone connection the previous two years and has been delighted with the results he has got, so made the trip over in person this year. He was rewarded with lot 3, EM180170 (AI) for just $3000. This ram had a LEQ index of 164.9, a TCP index of 161 and a C+ index of 229.5, placing it in the top 1% nationally. It was sired by Ella Matta 150097, a ram that has bred so well in other flocks around the country and has greatly help[ed build Ella Matta’s rise in recognition.

The ram with the highest TCP & C+ indices in the catalogue of 165.8 and 239.6 was EM180127, sired by EM170153 and coming into the ring straight after the record breaker. With exceptional carcase attributes including 3.3 for muscle and +20.1 for Pwwt, it was Max Whyte and Gail Cremasco, Brimfield stud, Kendenup, WA who placed the winning $4000 bid via phone hook-up with Elders agent Bernard Seal, with the hammer falling just before a late bid from another WA phone bidder.

Ella Matta’s neighbour Sam Mumford has not only been a client for a long time, but also an extremely strong advocate of the quality of their rams, However, the biggest vote of confidence he could give to others was the strength of his bidding. Supported by his son Nick, they bid $2800 for lot 11 and then proceeded to add a further 29; their 30 ram tally averaging $1323.

At the extreme value end of the sale, Elders local agent Greg Downing purchased on behalf of WA Buttrose, selecting 16 rams at an $806 average. Alex McGorman, Thornby P/L, based at Sanderston and KI and producers of the renowned brand Thornby Premium Lamb, was another to purchase double figure numbers, selecting 12 rams at a $1117 average.

Of the 47 successful White Suffolk purchasers, others who were prominent included Darren and Fiona Sanders, Keith (nine rams ave $1811), L & AO Thomas, American River (nine rams ave $1133), Chelsea and Nathan Bell, Spring Hills KI P/L, Wisanger (nine rams ave $1022), Peter Cooper, Cooper Farming, Parndana (eight rams ave $1325) and Simon and Madeline Kelly, Mine Creek Partners, Parndana (eight rams ave $1200).

A quality line-up of 40 Maternal Composite rams followed the White Suffolk draft through the ring, with 37 clearing to a $3100 top and averaging $1146. Ashley Ness, buying A/c AW & KJ Partners paid the top two prices of $3100 and $2600 in averaging $2850 for his two selections, adding to four White Suffolks purchased earlier at a $1325 average.

Kerryn Muntz, buying A/c Steve Childs, Karatta was again the volume buyer in this draft, purchasing seven rams to $2000 and at a $1457 average, adding to the eight she purchased last year.

Paul Bott, Bott KI Farming with six at a $967 average and Steve Halloran with five at a $980 average were also prominent.

There was a short delay before the Poll Merino pen auction of 48 individually lotted rams, plus six mini auction rams. This was an increased offering in response to last year’s strong result and total clearance.

They were carrying elite quality wools and again the catalogue was filled with colour, indicating industry leading performance levels through Merino Select. 47 cleared to a $3400 top, averaging a solid $1530.

EM180160, sired by Leahcim Poll 122899, impressed with six traits in the top 10% nationally, including a Multi-Purpose index of 161.7 and a Dual Purpose Index of 171.3. It was purchased by Mitch Willson, Willson River Trading, Penneshaw for the $3400 top price; one of four Poll Merino rams he bought at a $2600 average, adding to five White Suffolks purchased earlier at a $1480 average.

Last year’s top priced Poll Merino purchaser, Glen Tilley, Hillcott Grove Props, Kapunda was back again, purchasing three top rams to $3000 and at a $2300 average.

Adding to their earlier purchase of eight White Suffolks, Simon and Madeline Kelly were the biggest volume buyers of Poll Merinos, selecting 10 at a $1420 average. Not far behind was another repeat client, Geoff Nutt with nine at a $1056 average, while the Tremaine family, Parndana averaged $1500 for six rams.

Another highlight for the Heinrichs in this draft was the sale of EM180169 to Tasmanian breeder Rob via the Auction Plus network for $2000, the first time they have sold a ram to that state.

A naturally delighted Andrew Heinrich said post sale, “What a wonderful way to celebrate 40 years of White Suffolk breeding; to get a total clearance of 211 White Suffolk rams, along with the quality of the people prepared to bid on them was very humbling really.”

“Also, to have three stud breeders prepared to come all the way from WA for starters and to have 11 White Suffolk studs registered to bid was very pleasing, and then to get a record breaking sale price like that on top was mind blowing.”