MULTIPLE records tumbled at this year’s re-jigged Bendigo annual first cross ewe sale where prices were described as being “fair” for buyers and sellers.
The first of the records to tumble was the size of the 2021 offering which tallied 33,228, following a decision by Bendigo agents to combine their two previously-held annual markets into one feature event.
The decision filled the Bendigo saleyards to capacity and the monster yarding generated $11 million in earnings for northern Victorian first cross ewe breeders.
The sale lured interest from all of major prime lamb breeding areas, including Hamilton, Ballarat, south and east Gippsland, north-east Victoria, the Goulburn Valley and local Bendigo districts.
Bendigo agents’ association president, Richard Leech said the decision to combine to two markets was well justified.
It has showcased the first-cross breeding in this northern part of Victoria, Mr Leech said.
“The penning of one-and-a-half-year-olds, in particular, batted very deep; it was an outstanding display.
“It didn’t matter if you bought in the first pen, pen 20 or pen 30, you were able to purchase a style and type of sheep that suited everyone’s budget,” Mr Leech said.
The second record to tumble was the market’s top price for young unjoined ewes that rose sharply to $516/head, eclipsing last year’s best of $446.
And by the end of the sale, 26 lots or 3722 head had sold above the previous best price of last year’s sale and the young ewe yarding averaged $402 for 11,481 head.
Mr Leech said that with this result it was a good reward for the breeders to continue their craft, and a fair price paid by those wanting replacement on the strength of prime lamb and ewe mutton markets.
Watch Sheep Centre’s full interview with Richard Leech:
Topping the young ewe market at $516 – the highest price so far this season – was a line of 98 May-June drop ewes sold by the breeders, Allan and Janine Wiltshire of Prairie.
The mulesed and Gudair-vaccinated ewes were bred out of Panorama blood Merino ewes by Black Gate Border Leicester rams and weighed 87.3 kgs.
Three further pens were sold at prices at $500 or better. Two lines offered by Raywood first cross ewe specialist, J. & L. Cartwright, made $500 and $508, and the third line of 155 from J.H. Hay and Sons, Kamarooka, sold for $500.
The Cartwright family’s draft was sired their own Bungaree Border Leicester rams and bred out of South Australian and Western Australian bred Merino ewes. The 78kg ewes were judged the market’s best presented. The Hay family ewes weighed 79kgs and were bred from Bundyalumbah Merino ewes by Towarri BL rams.
The Cartwright family sold a total of 937 ewe hoggets in five lots that overall averaged $483 and the Hay family’s consignment of 336 averaged $481.
Bridgewater vendor D.R. Collins and Partners sold a 100 young ewes bred from Alma and Mulloorie blood Merino ewes by Black Gate BL rams for $492. The next best price was $480 for 247 ewes offered by Julian Laffan, Everdry, Moama, and for 155 ewes from J.H. Wall and Sons, Caniambo.
A detailed analysis of the 11,481 ewe hoggets showed four lots sold at or above $500 a head, 26 lots made between $440 and $480, and 23 pens sold from $400-$440. A selection of the younger and smaller-framed ewe hoggets made $300-$400.
Watch the live vision of the opening sales:
The third record to tumble was the market best price for ewe lambs that firmed slightly to $456 after a top of $444 a head 12 months ago.
While sales of ewe hoggets exceeded all expectations the demand and overall enquiry for the ewe lambs was more subdued than normal in spite of a one-off higher price.
The cause of this apprehension according to Richard Leech was multi-focused, with the growth and development of the penning trailing that of previous years.
The wet and cooler winter has had its effects on stock this season, Mr Leech said.
“Our lambs are 6-8 weeks behind in their development; however, in our southern buying areas many of those producers are yet to sell lambs and at current change-over values is possibly causing some financial distress,” he said.
Topping the ewe lamb market was specialist operatives, Geoff and Di Allan, Mathoura with their annual draft of March-April drop Melrose ewe lambs, bred from ‘Yarto’ Alma blood Merino ewes by Retallick BL rams.
Offered in unrestricted runs, a run-out-the gate of 180 head from their first pen of 310 (58kg) were taken at $454, and the remaining balance was re-offered and sold at $420.
The second draft of 622 of the Melrose lambs (51.7kg) saw a run of 360 taken at $392 while the remaining balance of 262 were cleared at $370.
Penned at the head of ewe lamb yarding, and judged as the best-presented ewe lamb exhibit, was a lot of 251 drawn from an 800 head consignment offered by D.R. Collins and Partners, Bridgewater.
Similarly bred to their year-older sisters sold in the hogget sale ie. from Alma and Muloorie Merino ewes by Black Gate BL rams, the April-May drop ewes weighed 66kgs and made $428. A second line of 200 (59kgs) made $398.
Also sold above the $400 level, at $412, was the year-younger sisters of the market toppers from A. & J. Wiltshire, Prairie. The 191 April-May-drop ewes weighed 52.7kgs. A line of 300 ewe lambs out of Riverina and WA-bred ewes by Retallick BL rams from T.J., M.J. & C. Rhodes, Mulwala, NSW sold for $390.
As the sale progressed and the weights declined demand became was inconsistent and less intense. This is best explained by a close analysis of the sale results that revealed that lines above 50kgs liveweight sold for an average of 655 cents per kilogram, while those weighting 40-50kgs averaged 612 cents/kg lwt.
Overall, the ewe lamb yarding of 21,747 averaged 45kg for an average price of $290 per head or 629c/kg. The ewe hogget penning of 11,481 averaged 64.6kg, for a $408 and 631c/kg price average.