THE Mackin family's Kamballie stud capped off what has been an unprecedented year with a successful result at its fourth annual on-property ram sale at Tammin last week.
In its 73rd year of breeding Merinos, the family welcomed its long list of return buyers and some new faces with a top catalogue of well-grown white wool Wheatbelt Poll Merino and Merino rams and some warm country hospitality.
There is no shortage of challenges facing sheep producers at present with a weakened wool market and adverse seasonal conditions, particularly water shortages, taking its toll throughout large parts of the Wheatbelt.
And combined with the amount of ewes that have exited the WA system earlier in the year likely to have some impact on the sale, caused some pre-sale tensions among the Kamballie camp.
But these were quickly dissolved as the stud's loyal client base and new buyers remained focused on their Merino enterprises and bid spiritedly through to the 176th and final lot, ensuring a complete clearance at strong values.
At the end of selling the Nutrien Livestock and Elders selling teams, spearheaded by auctioneer Michael Altus, recorded an overall average of $1907 and grossed $335,700.
This marked only a $157 drop in the overall average compared to last year's sale where a total clearance of 180 rams sold to average $2064.
In the sale breakdown, 116 Poll Merino rams sold to average $2020, back $150 compared to last year's sale where 133 Poll rams averaged $2170, while in the Merino line-up, a larger team of 60 rams averaged $1690, back $77 on last year's sale.
In his sale opening address, Kamballie stud principal Shayne Mackin passionately acknowledged the efforts of everyone involved in the stud and all old and new buyers who attended the sale, particularly long-term buyers who return every year.
"Big thank you to my family, Mitchell Crosby and Russell Wood and the Livestock and Land and Elders crew for all your hard work," Mr Mackin said.
"We have bloody loyal clients - we appreciate you giving us the responsibility to breed the sheep and it makes us strive to get better."
With significant stud ram sales in August of $18,000 to the Mianelup stud and $15,000 to the East Mundalla stud at the Narrogin Long Wool Day and $10,500 to the Nicholls family at the WA Sheep Expo and Ram Sale, Kamballie's rise in prominence among fellow WA stud and nucleus breeders continued into their on-property sale.
The upstanding regulation February shorn Poll ram penned in lot two was touted as a potential stud sire and it didn't disappoint.
With several hopeful buyers joining the bidding battle, the 120kg ram was knocked down for the sale's $11,250 top price to Kevin Broad, Elders stud stock, who was representing the Dempster family's Grass Valley Poll Merino stud, Grass Valley.
The classy Glenlea Park 881 son displayed wool tests of -0.4 micron percentage (MP), 3.2 standard deviation (SD), 99.9 per cent comfort factor (CF) and 5.7 kilograms greasy fleece weight (GFW).
Mr Broad, who classes for the Grass Valley stud, said they were still keen to get their hands on a Kamballie sire after they were the losing bidder on the $10,500 Kamballie ram at Katanning.
"The Dempsters have used Kamballie genetics successfully in the past," Mr Broad said.
"The new sire fits the bill with its good carcase attributes and productive wool to go with its size.
"I'm confident it will fit in well into Grass Valley's breeding program going forward."
Two lots later and fellow return stud buyer John Goodier, Tyndale stud, Korbel, paid the sale's $6500 second top price for another regulation shorn Glenlea Park 881 son.
The 111kg ram tested +0.5 MP, 3 SD, 99.9pc CF and 6.7kg GFW.
Mr Goodier said the ram was the fourth Kamballie sire they had purchased with the bloodline well-suited to their program and "breeding on well" for them.
"The top eight to 10 of our ram lambs we had picked out had Kamballie breeding," Mr Goodier said.
He said he selected sires for crimp definition, staple length, wool softness, whiteness and lock structure with correct body conformation.
"He is an ideal, big-bodied ram with soft, long stapled and crimpy wool," Mr Goodier said.
The Poll sale team leader in the late March shorn line-up was knocked down for one bid shy at $6250 to Brian Westlake, Dabrappy stud, Calingiri.
The 113kg ram was sired by Kamballie Rookie K2 (ET bred by Gunallo 8) with tests of -0.1 MP, 3 SD, 99.9pc CF and 5.6kg GFW.
Mr Westlake said it was the first Kamballie sire they had introduced into their stud.
"We have been following the Kamballie sheep for some time, they have a good reputation and are what we are looking for," Mr Westlake said.
"It is a big plain-bodied ram with long stapled, white and crimpy wool."
Mitchell Crosby, Nutrien Livestock Breeding, representing the St Quentin stud, Nyabing, paid the sale's next highest price of $6000 for a new Poll sire.
The 102kg March shorn ram syndicate bred by Gunallo 8 sons tested -0.8 MP, 3.2 SD, 99.8pc CF and 7kg GFW.
First-time stud buyer Ken Gray, High Valley stud, Lake Grace, paid the sale's $5750 top Merino ram price for one of two Merino rams at the sale.
The regulation shorn 113kg ram was bred from a syndicate joining with Woolkabin 533 sons and tested -1.2 MP, 3.1 SD, 99.8pc CF and 6.5kg.
Mr Gray said the top-priced ram represented good value for what he was.
"We usually go for strong wools but he is more a medium wool with a lot of purity and definition," Mr Gray said.
"He is a good sheep, we are going through our stud reserves tomorrow (Thursday, September 10) which will give us a better idea of his position in the stud."
Mr Gray earlier paid $2250 for a 120kg Lionel bred ram.
Westonia operation Clows-Top Farm built a team of nine Poll rams, outlaying a strong average of $2689 and paid to $5200 for a 114kg Rookie K2 son in lot 64 displaying tests of -0.4 MP, 3.2 SD, 99.8pc CF and 6.4kg GFW.
A number of other commercial buyers also paid strong values for their selections.
Among these were Dremdarkin Farms, Yorkrakine, who purchased a team of 10 rams made up of six Merino and four Poll rams at a solid average of $2735 with their $4750 top price paid for a 110kg East Mundalla 11 (ET bred by Imperial 141) son with wool tests of -0.3 MP, 2.8 SD, 100pc CF and 6.3kg GFW.
Mount Joy Grazing, Northam, tallied a team of 11 Poll rams at an average of $2309, operating from $800 with two rams at $4000 and bidding to a $4500 top price for the 106kg regulation shorn prepared ram in lot seven by Rookie K2 with tests of -0.7 MP, 3.3 SD, 99.6pc CF and 5.7kg GFW.
Return volume buyers at the top-end of the market for more than 10 years the Saunders family, Mulberry Nominees, Kellerberrin, went to script with a team of eight Poll rams costing a healthy $3231 average with two rams at $4000 selected in the opening run of regulation shorn prepared rams, a 119kg Benny 29 son and a 120kg son of East Mundalla 11.
Volume buyers at the sale was Sam Bowen, Nutrien Livestock Corrigin, who purchased a large team of 15 Poll rams for Cardiminup Grazing Company, Narembeen, at values between $700 to $800.
VG & EB Ryan, Doodlakine, collected 14 rams, made up of eight Poll rams and six Merino rams costing from $700 to $1800.
Larger buyers exclusively targeting Merino rams included AL Carter & Co, Cunderdin, with 13 Merino rams costing from $900 to $2000 and Woodside County, Wyalkatchem, who finished with an account of nine Merino rams spending from $800 to $2500.
Beacon outfit Faulkner Brothers secured 10 rams (seven Polls and three horns) bidding from $800 to $2000, while R & P Teakle, Cunderdin, ND & BA Davis, Merredin and HC & GL Ludemann, Bolgart, each finished with six rams at the sale.