Woolumbool hits new heights with $13,500 top

No doubt the individual highlight of last Wednesday’s (Oct 2nd) Woolumbool three breed ram sale at Lucindale was the setting of a new Woolumbool sale record of $13,500 for one of their Poll Dorsets.

However, the strength behind the overall sale success, where 183 Poll Dorset, White Suffolk and Poll Merino rams sold at a fantastic $1721 average, was again the strong bidding from a core group of repeat commercial lamb producers who support this sale year after year. That was a clear endorsement on the sucdess of the Woolumbool genetics within their flocks.

Coming off a hugely successful sale last year that saw 201 head average $1901, and especially the Poll Dorset draft that averaged $2028, Woolumbool’s senior principal Phil Clothier said post-sale, “From last year we always expected a little pull back, especially with the Poll Dorsets, yet this was still a good solid sale with great top ends in the terminals.”

“In our Dorset breeding we have concentrated on lean meat yield in the past, but having got that to high levels within the industry, we are now placing more emphasis on lamb eating quality to ensure our clients receive any premiums on offer for the highest quality.

“This LEQ index also places pressure on birthweights and worm egg counts as a bonus,” Phil said.

There were 30 registered bidders, compared with 41 last year, which suggested the sale could tighten up before the end.

“Value wise it was a fantastic result, which is especially pleasing as those long and loyal clients who got rams with the performance they were looking for today, at pretty good value,” Phil said.

The sale opened with the offering of four Elite Poll Dorset rams. There were two serious stud buyers looking for a top performance ram and unfortunately for each other, they selected the same sheep, Lot 4, W184887, sired by Melton Vale 160114. An extreme muscle sheep (EMD 3.9) with great length and muscle pattern, it was in the top 10% of all breeds for all three indices, Carcase Plus (225), Lamb Eating Quality (151) and the new Total Carcase Production (156).

After an intense and rapid bidding dual, it was Scott and Emily Davidson, Morton stud, Lucindale who placed the winning $13,500 bid. The unlucky underbidders were Matthew and Amy Reid, Rowallan stud, Murrell, NSW who travelled all the way over to get a top stud ram, but went home empty handed.

The four Elite Poll Dorsets averaged $5075.

Ten White Suffolk Elites followed, these averaging $2140, with only two going to stud breeders. Darryl Grosser, Oakdale stud, Serviceton narrowed his selections down to two and when able to get the first, W185463Tw under budget at just $2100, he was then also able to chase his other choice, Woolumbool 185369.

However, there was more than serious flock ram buyer competition on this ram and it was Dale and Ruth Price, Glencoe who dug in the longest to secure the ram for their Majardah stud for the top White Suffolk price of $3200.

This ram was in the top 10% of all breeds on Lambplan for growth (19.6 for Pwwt), Muscle (3.4), Worm Resistance (-45) and Shear Force 5 (-1.5), plus the three main indices, C+ (234), LEQ (167) and TCP (167). Both these top White Suffolks were sired by W173980 with his first drop on offer this year, not just from Woolumbool, but also from multiple other studs as the result of widespread semen sales.

He was widely represented in the White Suffolk drafts of this sale with around 40% being sired by him.

“He is the most profitable ram we’ve ever had,” Phil Clothier said, and this is only his first drop of progeny.

The Clothier family, Phil and Sharon, and Aaron and Sally breed both their terminal sire breeds to the same market objectives, to produce rapid growing lambs to be finished at Trade weights, or at the bottom end of the Export weight grids. They have been doing it successfully for a long time now. While there are breed preferences amongst the buyers, of the 25 commercial producers who were successful on these drafts, six of them bought from both breeds.

The flock ram drafts from each breed were sold on two alternating runs of each.

The first run of 38 Poll Dorsets was still very strongly sought, topping at $2300 and averaging $1876. However, the second run ran out of buyers, with 35 of 54 averaging $1263. This drop off really had nothing to do with quality, but a simple sale formula of an imbalance in supply and demand this year.

In the White Suffolks, demand was comparable with the Poll Dorset flock ram demand last year, with the first run of 39 topping at $2400 twice and averaging $2087.

The second run of 54 White Suffolks fared much better than their Poll Dorset counterparts as a couple of significant volume buyers didn’t get a real look in in the heat of competition on the first draft. Of these 54, 49 found new homes at a $1473 average. To emphasise the quality holding up right through, the five White Suffolks that passed at auction when buying competition eventually dropped off, averaged 207.8 for C+ index and had four or five of their EBV traits or indices in the top 10% of the industry.

The final offering was a high-quality draft of 20 Poll Merinos carrying some very impressive bloodlines and performance levels, only two not ranking in the top 10% of the industry on Merino Select for the main indices. This being just the third year Woolumbool has offered Poll Merinos at auction. With increased numbers each year, the Clothiers are still in the process of establishing a reliable client following anything like they have established in their other two breeds.

Consequently only eight of the 20 sold at auction to a top of $1000 four times and averaged a modest $900; great value for the three buyers who purchased.

Overall, the most prominent ram buyer was Dugald McLachlan, Nangwarry Pastoral Co, Nangwarry. He purchased 25 rams; 13 Poll Dorsets and 12 White Suffolks, paying from $900 to $2100 and averaging $1668.

Mark Bruce, Boonoonar Partnership, Kingston purchased 12 Poll Dorsets at a $1625 average, then was the volume buyer of Poll Merinos with five at an $880 average; his 17 rams averaging $1406 overall.

Colin Earl operated for J Vasey, through Rodwells Mansfield who couldn’t get to the sale. After not getting any White Suffolks in the first run, he was the dominant buyer in the second, purchasing 14 to a $2000 top and averaging $1386.

Almost part of the furniture at Woolumbool is Miller Whan & John’s Kingston based agent Mike Newton and two of his clients, Morris Oliver, Oliver Nominees and Josh Hancock, RL Hancock. Morris purchased 13 rams (12 White Suffolks and one Poll Dorset) paying to the equal top flock ram price of $2400 and averaging $1546. Josh purchased seven White Suffolks and two Poll Dorsets to $2200, averaging $1867.

Moorhouse Pty Ltd, through PPH & S Naracoorte was a strong bidder on Poll Dorsets, purchasing 11 to a $1900 top. Through having eight of those in the in the second run, they were able to bring their buying average down to $1473.

Graham and Sam Clothier were the other double figure buyers, purchasing nine White Suffolks, also to the equal top flock ram sale price of $2400 and averaging $1978, then added one Poll Merino at $1000; their 10 overall averaging $1880.

Other prominent buyers included Struan Research Centre (nine Poll Dorsets ave $1322); I & P Hocking, Lucindale (eight White Suffolks ave $1925); the Woodard family, Peel Pastoral, Wrattonbullie (eight White Suffolks ave $1788); Woomera Homestead, Millicent (eight Poll Dorsets ave $1588); Patrick Ross, Lucindale (six Poll Dorsets ave $2083); RJ Williams, Naracoorte (five Poll Dorsets and one White Suffolk ave $2040); and CD Baker & Sons, Lucindale (six rams ave $1467). The Bakers were the only buyers to purchase from all three breeds.