ULTRAWHITE rams sold for an $18,000 high but it was ewe prices that left onlookers gasping when 70 stud ewe hoggets went under the hammer to average $3127 at the Hillcroft Farms 41st annual production sale at Popanyinning on Tuesday.
A big crowd of about 150 watched as local buyer Cranston & Son Pty Ltd took on the bidding force of an unknown number of Auctions Plus (AP) buyers to secure 23 ewes for up to $5900 to serve as the basis of a new Hillcroft Farms daughter stud that will be called Kingslane.
John Cranston, who owns several farming properties along the west coast, invested $84,200 for his 23 ewes (or a $3661 average) before turning his attention to the rams.
Mr Cranston paid the top ewe price and was losing bidder on another ewe sold to an Auctions Plus buyer for $5200 and, without consulting the records books, these values set new WA stud ewe auction prices for any breed.
AP buyers bidding from centres such as Dubbo, Ouyen, Deniliquin and King Island in eastern Australia accounted 33 ewes to fill the insatiable demand that has emerged this year for high-productive non-shearing sheep.
The sale crawled along at a snail's pace as AP bids were relayed to Nutrien auctioneer Steve Wright who took almost five hours to clear all but one of the 270 sheep on offer.
When the sale shifted onto the rams there were 40 remote bidders logged into the system as well as 65 buyer registrations at the on-site desk and prices kicked off at $11,000 for the first ram offered and sold to an AP buyer.
It wasn't until well into the sale the $18,000 top price was set and it came for one of four rams from which Hillcroft Farms proprietors Dawson and Greta Bradford wished to reserve the right to collect semen for their own stud.
The ram was bought by Mr Cranston along with the $14,750 second top price ram.
The top price ram tag 197468 was single born in June 2019 and had Australian Sheep Breeding Values showing -0.20 birth weight, 7.2 weaning weight, 11.7 post weaning weight, 1.0 fat, 3.8 eye muscle depth with a 148.1 Terminal Carcase Production index and additional ASBVs of -0.49 intramuscular fat, 0.55 shear force and 2.56 lean meat yield.
AP buyers bought other rams for $9000 and $6800 but the $11,000 third highest price was paid by commercial producer James and Jill Broun, Beverley, who have been long term UltraWhite buyers.
The register of local buyers included more than 20 potential first time buyers and from start to finish it was a battle for rams with at least 80 destined to go across the border.
At the end of the day the sale had grossed $851,750 and rams had been dispersed to all corners of WA's agricultural regions.
Mr Bradford said he knew the sale was gathering momentum and could foresee such a result for 2021 but the strength of this year's sale had been a surprise for them.
He thanked his family, staff, agents and clients for their huge support over many years.