An improved season over that experienced last year in the immediate Woomelang area in the Victorian Mallee was certainly a factor in allowing the Donnan family, Anden White Suffolks and Ultra Whites and Kerangie Suffolk stud to present a magnificent catalogue of rams and ewes from their three breeds to buyers last Thursday (3rd Oct).
If seasons like last year reminded commercial producers in the area of anything, it would have been the value of running sheep when cropping returns were virtually nil. While this season has tapered off a lot at the end from earlier predictions, cropping or hay returns will still be significant, but the resilient producers will also benefit from heavier or quicker turnoff of their lambs into an even more lucrative lamb market.
As senior principal Andrew Donnan said in greeting the gallery that included 58 registered bidders from four states, “Who would have thought just five years ago that we’d now be seeing prices of $8.50/kilo or more for our lambs; the outlook is scarily good.”
Those resilient local area commercial lamb producers proved just as strong as before, providing strong competition for the drafts of 80 White Suffolk flock rams, 15 Suffolks and 72 Ultra Whites, resulting in improved sale numbers and overall averages.
However not all areas are experiencing a better season and normally good buying support areas to the north and into NSW are definitely suffering, to the point that breeding ewe numbers are now severely depleted. One pastoral NSW based buyer at this sale has gone from 10,000 ewes down to just 200 at present.
Overall, by the sale’s end 197 of the 225 head offered had found new homes in an 88% clearance and averaged $1506. This was 12 more sold than last year and a $91/head better average.
However, it was the top end draft of 21 White Suffolk stud rams that provided the sale’s highest prices, as well as probably the biggest disappointment.
This draft topped at $6500 and averaged $2548; $597 down in average and $3000 in top price even on last year’s tough sale. Ten of the draft ended up being purchased by astute commercial prime lamb producers.
This certainly had nothing to do with quality, as this draft was arguably their best ever for depth and presentation over their 24 annual sales, plus it contained the Supreme White Suffolk exhibit from the recent Adelaide Royal Show.
With a Carcase Plus index of 205.1, that Adelaide Supreme, Anden 180179 Twin was the seventh ram offered in the draft and was snapped up by a delighted Nick Cheetham, ‘Cheetara’ stud, Narembeen, WA. He made the trip over hoping to get this ram, having had very good success with Anden genetics in past years.
It was the second ram into the ring, Anden 180001 that took the top price honours. Sired by Anden 170045, this powerful and very long ram ‘screamed’ meat production as he commanded the ring and was supported by outstanding Lambplan figures. These included 12.05 for weaning weight, 18.37 for post weaning weight, 2.55 for eye muscle depth, a Carcase Plus index of 221.63 and 146.08 on the new Total Carcase Production index.
Nick Cheetham was again involved, doing the bidding for Nathan Ditchburn, Golden Hill stud, Kukerin, WA who connected with Nick via phone.
The Hull family, Kattata Well stud, Pt Kenny, SA, who purchased Anden ‘Cruiser’ 150277 for a record $68,000 just two years ago, had a big win at the other end of the price scale when they were able to pick up the impressive Anden 180045, with a C+ index of 216.84 for just $4000. Likewise, the Prentice family, Kurralea stud, Ariah Park, NSW who are in the grip of the drought was able to get their pick, Anden 180101 with a C+ index of 213.21 for just $3000.
G & D Meyer, through HF Richardson, Ballarat paid $3250 for A180238, a son of the very high performance sire Woolumbool 173980, this ram being the highest indexing ram in the catalogue with a C+ index of 222.24. BD & SP Vowels, Alerrum stud, Burrumbeet made the most of the stud buying opportunity to purchase two at $2750 and $2000.
It was the White Suffolk flock ram draft that produced the standout result. All 80 rams in this terrific draft were snapped up by 23 individual buyers operating at a $1575 average, $295 higher than last year.
Repeat buyers, Wirrinourt Pastoral Co and buying through Landmark Ararat led the way in both volume and price. After snapping up two of the stud draft at $2000 each, they successfully bid on 12 of this flock ram draft, again paying to $2000 twice, and averaging $1758 for those 12.
Other prominent buyers in this draft included S & C Wilson, through McKean McGregor, Bendigo (six to $1900 ave $1700, plus two studs); A, H & J Soulsby through Elders Wycheproof (six to $1600 ave $1516); Keeyuga Pastoral Co, through Elders Bendigo (five to $1800 ave $1620, plus two studs); and KY Pastoral through Elders Warracknabeal (six to $1600 ave $1467, plus two Suffolks and four Ultra Whites).
The Anden Ultra White program is still in the relatively early days of its development and is still growing a following for these ‘shedding’ meat machines. However, the Donnan family was able to present a superb quality draft of 72 rams, 12 more than last year. They attracted 14 buyers and sold six more than last year, overall selling 54 at auction to a $3200 top, averaging $1257. This average was $60 down on last year, primarily due to the greater supply, thus wider buyer choices.
It was once again dominated by two buyers from the Kyalite region who have seen the merit in these Ultra Whites from the start.
The Rae family, Warrawee Pastoral was the first to invest heavily in them and they were again prominent, selecting nine to $1800 and at an average of $1489, after purchasing 17 last year.
Saxilby Park Pastoral selected 14 rams, paying to $1800 and averaging $1029 to be the biggest volume buyer this year and adding to the 12 they purchased last year.
The top price of $3200 was paid twice, firstly by Khan White Dorpers, Goodooga, NSW (two ave $2650) and Bronte Mawson, Australis White Dorpers and buying through Fleurieu Ag, Strathalbyn, SA. These three rams will go into stud duties.
The 15 Kerangie Suffolk rams sold well, with 13 clearing to a top of $3500 and averaging $1650; $483 up on last year, even with seven more selling. The top priced and extremely long ram, Anden 180501Tw by Pamellen 150074 and with a C+ index of 188.42, went to the Funke family, Bundara Downs, Bordertown.
Lucy & Ben Prentice, Kurralea stud, Ariah Park, NSW paid $3250 for Kerangie 180515Tw by Glencraig 150406, with a C+ index of 186.9.
Elli McDonald, Hopea stud, Dadswell Bridge pushed both the top purchasers before she was able to pick up Kerangie 180554Tw for just $2000.
G & H McKenzie, through Elders Ballarat was the volume buyer, purchasing six Suffolks to $1400 and averaging $1233.
It was the select draft of Suffolk and White Suffolk ewes that commenced the sale, these also selling on improved results from last year. Twelve of the 14 Suffolks offered sold to a $2300 top and averaged $924.
D & B Grosser, Oakdale stud, through HF Richardson, Ballarat selected three, including the sale topper, Kerangie 180490 with a C+ index of 188.51.
The Cotter family, Beeac paid the second top of $1700 for K180549Twin, then added two White Suffolk ewes at $900 and $660 plus an outstanding White Suffolk ram, A180027 for just $2500. They were very happy to have been able to get such quality at bargain prices.
Competition for the 23 White Suffolk ewes was almost a one-horse race. Other than the two Cotter purchases, David and Michelle Pipkorn, Detpa Grove stud, Jeparit went to $2000 to get their one select purchase of Anden 180340Twin, then the balance was purchased by one buyer. That was LS & KM Noble, Forbes, NSW who had Jono Sutherland, Elders Bendigo bidding for them. They purchased 14 ewes to a $1400 top and averaged $871, a fantastic foundation for their new stud venture.
Anden and Kerangie senior principal Andrew Donnan said post sale he was delighted with the strength of support from those who bid on their sheep, especially their many long and loyal commercial lamb producer clients.