AUSTRALIAN Merino producers have set a record today spending $1.55 million in three hours at the Kerin Poll Merino sale at Yeoval in New South Wales.
Despite COVID travel restrictions and the inability for some buyers to attend in person, the sale averaged $3096 for an entire clearance of the 500 rams offered.
It sets a new benchmark for Merinos, with the dip in the wool market having little apparent influence on the sale result.
While rams sold to an eager audience across the board, it was rams which had a magic trio of figures that earned the greatest prices.
Buyers seemed to be chasing high Australian Sheep Breeding Values for post weaning weight, yearling weight and yearling greasy fleece weight. If a ram had figures well above industry averages in these traits bidding was intense.
The sale’s top price of $10,000 was paid for lot 108, a ram that had a post weaning weight figure of 8.1 (breed average 3.4); a yearling weight figure of 9.2 (breed average of 5.1) and a yearling greasy fleece weight figure of 22.5 (breed average 13.3).
It was one of 26 rams bought by the Wykes family, Euchareena, NSW, which runs an 18.5-micron flock of Merinos, joining about 10,000 ewes.
Brett Wykes said they looked at ASBVs when they assessed the rams and were prepared to pay more for sires which had high figures.
“We liked the figures on the top price lot, but it was also its wool, which had a lot of character and was true to type,” Mr Wykes said.
“We got the rams we had selected beforehand, but we had to pay a bit more than we usually do.”
Kerin Poll principal Nigel Kerin said the optimism in the sheep industry spilled over to the sale’s results.
“We are having a great season in many parts of Australia and commodity prices for lamb and mutton are excellent.
“There has been a correction in wool prices, but these are more than compensated for by the incredible returns we are receiving for finishing stock, or surplus stock,” Mr Kerin said.
“It has shown the value of Merinos that are bred to tick all the boxes.”
Mr Kerin said Merino buyers were now looking for a group of attributes in their rams that could earn them money – fertility, early maturity and high weaning weights. And early maturing sheep translated into not only the ability to target the prime lamb market but also breed from ewe lambs, he said.
Selling agents Bowyer and Livermore consigned rams to five states: NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia.
Repeat buyer Tim Oldfield from Enngonia, NSW, bought 52 rams, more than he normally does, after adding ewe lamb joinings to his enterprise.
He said while it would be better if the wool market was higher, it was still important to buy new genetics.
“We concentrated on buying rams with high Australian Sheep Breeding Values of post weaning weight, yearling weight and fleece weight,” Mr Oldfield said.
“Given the wool prices at the moment, fleece weight is still important, but it is the number three trait for selection.”
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