WINNING the champion pen of rams sash at Hamilton’s Sheepvention gave Matthew Coddington some welcome relief from the crippling drought his Roseville Park Merino stud at Dubbo is experiencing.
The pen of long wool rams ranging from 15.7 to 21.2 micron went on to sell for an average of $5400 and topped at $7500 at yesterday’s sale, while the Roseville Park’s pen of short wools topped at $8000 and averaged $5200.
Topping at $8000 last year and averaging $6600, Mr Coddington said the ability to handle wet weather, and their high stocking rate, was what attracted buyers to his rams at Hamilton.
His flock’s 7.7 to 8.85kg average cut of 18 micron wool probably has something to do with it too.
The sale will help them pay the $15,000 a week feed bill. After floods in 2016, Roseville Park, which usually receives an average of 50mm a month year round, only had rainfall in January, March and December of 2017. This year it only came in January, with the 10mm received last week the first time rainfall has reached double digits since then.
Mr Coddington said they fed their own fodder – 850 tonnes of grain and 1500 round bales of hay – for the first 15 months, and destocked all the passengers straight away.
“We did all the planning, followed all the rules, but still there is no rain – we’ve been buying in feed since May, with Hay from Hamilton and Mildura and grain from Nhill,” he said.
Mr Coddington said it was year’s like this that Australian sheep breeding values helped decision making, as it took away the environmental factor.
“Some of the rams won’t be as big this season, but you’d rather a mini minor body with V8 engine genetics then a V8 with a mini minor engine,” he said.
Benchmarking sheep at show also helped, while the six monthly shearing in March and October had spread out the income stream.
Mr Coddington said there was a good atmosphere at the Sheepvention sale, resulting in a solid average without an extreme high price.
Much like at Roseville Park, Mr Coddington said many of his clients had sold off the dry sheep and were just trying to feed their best ewes.
“I am classing ewe hoggets earlier for clients so they can sell when they still have their milk teeth and get a good lamb price for them,” he said.
“You’ve just got to carry on, you put years and years of work in so you are not going to just let it go.”
One of the three judges of the pen of rams competition Phil Schultz of Techwool Trading at Hamilton said the Roseville Park five were the most even pen when it came to staple length, and to the crimp from the bottom to the top of the staple.
He added; however, that judging long wool rams against short wool rams had made for a difficult task, with the short wool teams still being very good, and they had requested for that judging to be changed next year.
In terms of the wool itself, Mr Schultz said the price was very buoyant because of a lack of production the past five to 10 years, and now there was more upside in the market people could get back in and be profitable.
And with general auctions commencing this week after the mid-winter recess with 50,000 bales, Mr Shultz said the market might come back a little bit, especially as the Chinese RMB currency had been devalued and was putting pressure on the market, though it wouldn’t collapse to previous lows.