Naracoorte first cross ewes set national record at $402

Terry Sim, November 14, 2019

From left, Lockhaven principals Brody and David Lock, with their SAL agent Craig Lewis, buyer Ken Atkin and his SAL agent Dave Fraser with the $402 ewes.

NARACOORTE’S annual first cross ewe sale has set a new Australian record of $402 for the popular Border Leicester-Merino prime lamb mothers.

The strength of the sale was illustrated by all agency averages coming over $350 and the yarding of 17,620 1.5 year-olds averaging $358.26.

With the agencies mustering strong support for their runs, Southern Australian Livestock auctioneer Mat MacDonald yesterday topped them all with $402 for 100 August 2018 drop Lockhaven ewes from Mundulla breeders David and Brody Lock.

The big even ewes sold to SAL client and Kongorong producer Ken Atkin who said he had sold lambs for an average of $195 and was expecting his cast for age ewes to make about $180-$190.

“You’ve got to have them – it is no good buying ewes that aren’t good enough, because you are going to have them for eight years.

“If you get it right, you will be way ahead,” he said.

Lockhaven’s SAL agent Craig Lewis said the $402 sale was a national record and he expected the sale average to be in the mid to high $300s.

The $402 price easily exceeded the previous saleyard record of $386 paid for Coolawang ewes last year and was one of three lines in the strong sale that made $400 or more. Mr Atkin’s agent Dave Fraser, SAL Mt Gambier, also paid $400 for 138 Scullion Farming ewes and $390 for 200 June/July drop ewes from D.L and K.L. Brine.

TDC set the scene with $384 on first sale

The Naracoorte sale started strongly with Thomas De Garis & Clarkson client Bimbimbie Proprietors setting the scene with 180 April/May 2018 drop ewes making $384 with a Landmark Naracoorte client and the rest of TDC’s run making mostly $318-$376, with only one pen under $300. TDC sold 1224 1.5 year-olds for an average of $364.90. TDC director Darren Maney said it was good to see the ewes make what they are worth, with the sheep meat returns “on the board” to underpin the ewe rates.

“Yesterday we sold ewes in Hamilton for $228 and had hook results for lambs come back at $230, and they are from people who go to Naracoorte every year and buy the top ewes.

“I just felt the quality of the yarding throughout was simply outstanding,” he said.

“I don’t think I’ve witnessed a more solid sale from start to finish.”

Elders’ Coolawang ewes sell for $392-$398

their best presented pen at Naracoorte were, from left, Coolawang’s Trevor and Lachie James, judge Peter Stock, and Helen Wright, SA branch president, Australian Border Leicester Association.

Elders started their run with 121 of Coolawang’s June 2018 drop ewes making $398, followed by another line of 201 for the same price, a third line of 210 that sold for $392, and a fourth run of 145 ewes for $398. The rest of the Elders ewes sold mostly from $318-$370.

Ewe rates expected to drive buyers to ewe lambs

Landmark’s run peaked at $390 for 110 May 2018 drop ewes from Rushmore Run Proprietors, and the remainder sold from $336-$370, leaving the large expectant crowd waiting for the $400 barrier to be breached. Landmark sold 734 1.5 year-old ewes for an average of $362.07.

Landmark Naracoorte manager Richard Jennings said it was an outstanding sale and it was driven by the mutton and lamb prices.

“It was a credit to everyone and the breeders, and the vendor bred sheep were especially outstanding.”

He believed the young ewe rates will push a lot of restockers into the first cross ewe lamb sale at Naracoorte on November 21.

PPH&S was first to achieve $400 bid

Pinkerton Palm Hamlyn and Steen auctioneer Josh Manser came close to the $400 mark with $398 for Mentara Park’s 252 May/June 2018 drop ewes, but then hit it for the Deepwater Trust’s 201 June/July 2018 drop ewes bought by John Chay & Co agent Owen Merrett, for Kim, Rosie and Jack Skeer of Thornlea.

Mr Manser also sold a cut of 350 Scullion Farming ewes for $398 and Mr Atkin stepped in to pay $400 for the remaining 138 in the line. The rest of the big PPH&S offering ranged mostly from $308 to $394, with only a few pens under $300. PPH&S averaged $356.22 for 10,424 1.5 year-olds. They also 523 3.5-4.5 year-old proven first cross ewes for an average of $285.37.

PPH&S director Robin Steen said the increase in first cross breeders getting their breeding and feeding right was shown in the quality of the yarding, and surprisingly this year’s average was only about $16 above last year’s result.

“If you put that into perspective with the price of your ewe and your lamb, it is still not over the top — it’s just that barrier of $400.

“This job in my opinion, and I might be totally wrong, I’ve been wrong plenty of times before, but this (lamb) job is going to good for 5-10 years,” he said.

“We’re just going to have those little valleys (in price) because of volume.”

Market dynamics dictating ewe prices

Elders sold about 4614 ewes for an average of $357.89 and Elders Naracoorte manager Tom Dennis said the sale was above expectations, but in line with current market conditions.

“Where the cull for age sheep job and where the lamb job is, that’s what a 1.5 year-old first cross ewe should make.

“It is just market dynamics,” he said.

“Everyone has got $200 for their second cross lambs, they are getting $160-$170 for their old ewes, $40 for their wool, that’s around $390, so that’s where we are at.”

The total Naracoorte ewe yarding was more than 5000 below last year — 22,753 (including older ewes) in 2018 vs 18,153 yesterday — and Mr Steen said this was due to the breeding of more composite ewes, although he said some breeders are returning to first cross ewes “to breed a better composite”.

“You’ve got to have length and a good ewe to get (lamb) weight.”

The Naracoorte sale followed the equally strong Rodwell’s Edenhope first cross sale that morning, where 149 August/September drop 2018 ewes from Mt Yulong sold for $388 and 104 April/May 2019 drop August shorn ewe lambs from S. & N. Dearden made $340.


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