FIRST cross ewes sold to a new national record of $472 at Naracoorte yesterday as strong demand for replacements from southern Australian lamb producers continued.
The James family of Coolawang Pastoral Co achieved the record price for unjoined ewes, exceeding the $448 paid for ewes at the recent Bendigo sale and $70 above the national record set at Naracoorte last year.
The offering of about 17,500 1.5 year-old ewes averaged $402, compared to in 2019 when 17,620 ewes averaged $358.26.
Elders auctioneer Tom Dennis sold the 114 top-priced September shorn May/June drop Coolawang ewes sold to Tarpeena lamb, beef and potato farmer Tim Widdison through O’Connor & Graney agent Ethan Bronca. Mr Widdison also bought another 139 Coolawang ewes for $470 (83kg), helping the James family to an average of $456.80 for 591 ewes within a range of $442-$472.
Sale was a ‘pinnacle’ for Coolawang
Coolawang principal Trevor James said he has been breeding Border Leicesters since 1978 and this was the “pinnacle” sale for him. The ewe were all by Coolawang Border Leicester rams out of the ewes from the family’s self-replacing Merino flock.
Mr James said after the recent Bendigo prices, he thought the Naracoorte prices would be equal to or a bit higher.
“So we were expecting a lot of ewes would make between $410 and $440, and I think that was a general consensus.
“But once you get past $450, we were a bit surprised that we got the $472.”
Mr Bronca said paying $472 for ewes was “probably not a record you want to have, that’s for sure.” But he said Mr Widdison preferred to buy the Coolawang ewes each year and last year paid just a few dollars more than the top ewe price for the fourth run of Coolawangs.
“So we thought, stuff it, we might as well buy the tops and have the best.”
He said Mr Widdison gets May-June drop White Suffolk cross lambs out of the Coolawang ewes to 30kg-plus quickly.
The first of the Widdison May drop lambs, estimated at 27-35kg cwt, sold this week for up to $216 and an average of $204. Mr Widdison said he generally marked 135-140 percent of lambs from the Coolawang ewes.
“They’ve been pretty good.”
He said he was keen to secure the top Coolawang ewes and was hoping to pay $430-$440, but it became obvious top ewes would be making around $450.
“I sort of made my mind up I was going to try to buy them.
“I normally buy them every year, although I’ve been outgunned on the top pen for the last three years,” he said.
“I wanted about 250 so I thought well I better have a fair crack at the first two pens of Coolawangs.
“So I thought well, these are blue ribbon sheep and I’m probably going to have to go to $460, and I just kept going till I got them, but I wasn’t going to go any further.”
Solid sale ‘a touch above expectations’
Naracoorte-based private agents Pinkerton Palm Hamlyn and Steen yarded 10,500 ewes in the sale and director Richard Harvie said the sale result was solid and “a touch above” expectations.
“We thought that we would break the $450, probably $455-$460, but not $472, and it was only a very select few lines that were over the $440, and there were some good runs of sheep in that $380-$400 bracket.”
Mr Harvie said most buying support came from repeat buyers from local areas, lower south-east South Australia, Victoria’s Western District and the Adelaide Hills.
Mr Harvie said PPH&S’s top price was $450 for 340 Deepwater Trust ewes sold to Engler Enterprises at Penola, who also purchased another 131 $448 from same vendor. Deepwater’s offering of 545 ewes averaged $442.
Other large PPH&S offerings included Scullion Farming’s 3180 ewes that sold to a top of $446 and $404 average; D.A. & G.M. Eckert, 433 ewes to $448 and $440 average; Bandana, 2180 ewes to $418 and $365 average, and RH H.E. Bourne, 971 ewes to $418 and $396 average.
He said overall the sheep were in ideal condition to go forward – mostly 62-74kg lwt — but there were some opportunities for restockers in the 1.5 year-old ewes that had already had a lamb as lambs and were offered “a little bit under-done.”
“There was 8-10 lines of ewes that did slip under the radar a bit that sold between $300-$350.
“These presented in a little bit lighter condition, but still had frame and the breeding, and there was an opportunity there and a few blokes stepped in and bought them at a price, to go home feed them up on the excess feed and they would still have a good ewe that will join up.”
Other top lines from Elders included Marmon Hill, 155 @ $462, Nampara Pastoral Co, 274 @ $432, and G.W. & R.J Bridgman, 141 @$444.
Top lines from Thomas De Garis & Clarkson included Limestone Ridge Estate, 116 @ $430, and; JM Childs Farming Trust, 205 @ $438, 152 @ $434, 82 @ $432 and 107 @ $430.
South Australian Livestock’s offering included Lockhaven’s 111 @ $432; D.L. & K.L Brine, 140 @ $400, 140 @ $398, 140 @ $376 and 123 @ $362.
Nutrien Livestock’s run including Rushmore Props ewes selling at $430 for 100, $426 for $100 and $415 for 100 and PG McCallum Farm Trust’s 83 ewes for $400.