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Avenel Station flock comes to Deniliquin for sale

Terry Sim, December 3, 2021

At the Avenel dispersal today, at the back from left, Elders’ Deniliquin manager John Fitzpatrick and auctioneer Jason Andrews, and in front from left, Di and Geoff Allan, classer Adrian Flint and founding chairman Ian Milnes. Image – Murray Arnel.jpg

OLD-FASHIONED face-to-face sheep selling without the back-up of an online interface returned to the Riverina today with the dispersal of the Avenel Station flock at the Deniliquin saleyards.

The 11,000-strong Old Ashrose blood Merino flock was offered by Elders at the Deniliquin saleyards from 11am today after a mammoth mustering and trucking effort from the station 150 kilometres north-west of Broken Hill.

Hannasky road trains loaded with Avenel sheep on the Corona road, bound for Deniliquin. Image – Wade Hannasky.

The station was sold earlier this year as the 121,390 hectare Avenel/Mount Westwood aggregation, to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Former Avenel Station co-owner Geoff Allan said the decision was made to sell the sheep at Deniliquin rather than Yelta.

The lambs went to a property at Mathoura for weaning and the ewes came straight to the Deniliquin saleyards for drafting into age groups and were then walked to agistment paddocks prior to the sale.

Echuca-based carriers Wade and Anna Hannasky started trucking the sheep three weeks ago and after nine road trains and six B-double loads the job was done.

“We always used Hannaskys and they did a great job,” Mr Allan said.

Trucks were loading at 4-5am in the morning at Avenel to make the 1500km trip down to Deniliquin.

Mr Allan said the ewes look quite well and in forward store condition despite their trials and the hard season.

“They’ve had a hell of time – since March we reckon we’ve had 5mm of rain and then when we were trucking them out we were held up with rain – the irony, but what do you do?”

Mr Allan said it was a bit sad to be selling the sheep, “but we learned a lot,” he said.

“People want their money, which is fair enough, and after 14 years and when it is all settled they will have made a good dollar on their initial investment of $150,000 per unit.

“But you can’t ignore what the market says and if the market says it’s time to sell then you should sell,” he said.

“And don’t fall in love with either the land or the stock.”

Turning his mind back to the days after a group of “like-minded” investors formed Avenel Station Pty Ltd to buy the station and start the flock 14 years ago, Mr Allan said it had been “good fun.”

“Not everybody can say that they have been a part of running a station.”

The flock’s lambs average around 17 micron in fleece fibre diameter and broaden out to 20-22 micron as adults. Last year the ewes cut about 5 kilograms clean of wool. The sheep will be offered April shorn, except for the unshorn wether lambs. Well-known sheep classer Adrian Flint has classed the sheep each year.

Sold at the were about 1700 1.5 year-olds, 1700 2.5 year-olds, 500 3.5 year-olds, 850 4.5 year-olds, 750 5.5 year-olds and 650 6.5 year-olds. There are 2000 wether lambs and 2000 shorn ewe lambs.

Sheep Central store stock specialist Murray Arnel said the 1.5 year-olds sold in four drafts with the tops making $312 to a Narranderra buyer, 444 made $290 to Bendigo buyers, 304 sold for $258 to a Finley buyer and 168 made $222, also to Finley.

The first 600 of 2.5 year-old ewes made $294 to Mildura, 598 sold for $262 to Cootamundra, the next two drafts sold to Ararat and Swan Hill buyers. The 2018 drop ewes sold in two lines, and up to $282 to a Narranderra buyer. The first 698 2017 drop sold to $272, 550 2016 drop ewes made $240 and 6.5 year-old ewes sold to $186 to Ararat. The tops of the unshorn ewe lambs sold for $160, the seconds sold for $164 and the shorn wethers sold in four drafts made to $144, with the second making $118. All sheep sold to breeders and no meat buyers attended. Terms were offered by the vendors. Mr Arnel said branch support from Elders.

“They sent them to west of Mildura to Clare in South Australia, north to Narrenderra, south to Ararat and locally within 150 kilometres, they’ve gone to Bendigo, Swan Hill and Finley.

“It was  quite a good roll-up and they’ve sent them to all points of the compass.”

Mr Arnel said the sheep presented well considering what they had endured.

He said the sheep sold well according to the agents, but obviously paid a price on the condition of the sheep. The agents said the younger ewes sold as expected and the older sheep exceeded their expectations.

Sheep in the Avenel Station yards. Image – Elders.

Strong enquiry for the sheep

Elders Deniliquin manager John Fitzpatrick said only the Steam Plains dispersal he helped prepare compared with this one. Rain at Broken Hill last week was the only real hiccup in the operation, he said.

“The last ones should have been here last Sunday morning and they got here on the Tuesday afternoon (this week).”

Based on the amount of enquiry he has had, Mr Fitzpatrick said he is not concerned about the loss of any competition by not interfacing the sale online. He believed people who were going to spending up to $400 for sheep wanted to see them in the yards.

“I’ve had blokes from South Australia, to the east and from Victoria ringing and coming because they want to look at stock and they made the same comment ‘I’m glad we are having a proper sale.’”

He said getting ready for an online interface with the weighing and taking photographs would have taken longer than preparing for the physical sale.

“We would have been doing the sale next week.

“We’ve gone back to doing a bit of old-fashioned agency work – people ring up, ask questions…,” he said.

“We’ve done we normally used to do.”

The sale was run on Riverina rules, meaning a winning bidder can take a draft from a line at their price as long as the remaining sheep in the line sell. If no-one wants the remainder and the initial losing bidder wants the whole line, then their bid wins the sheep.

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  1. Jeffrey Herbert, February 21, 2022

    Some years ago I worked for Ross and Les Sefton who had a farm, Mulllumbimbi, along the old Morango Road. Can anyone advise me about them? I understand that Ross had a good understanding of sheep. For my part, I took the sheep on the road along by Pritty Pine and at one stage the sheep were boxed. Thank you for any information and interest. I’m trying to put information together for a book. Contact Jeffrey on [email protected]

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