THE Funke family, Bundara Downs, achieved an impressive $8000 top price increase at their 22nd annual on-property auction at Western Flat on Friday, despite expanding their sale offering by more than 60 rams.
In a three-breed selling marathon, Steve, Ros, Greg and Selena Funke offered 385 White Suffolk, Poll Dorset and Suffolk rams, selling 336 to $10,200 and averaging $1372.
They offered 63 more rams than last year, sold 66 more, and lifted their sale average by $193.
The 74 registered bidders in the sale shed competed with 28 potential buyers on the AuctionsPlus network for the first time.
The quality of the line-up was backed up by extensive Lambplan data. Of all the lots offered, 84 per cent ranked in the top 10pc on indices for all terminal breeds.
A Poll Dorset took the sale’s top price honour, with Bundara Downs 179705 knocked down to Collyn Garnett, Curlew Creek stud, Gnowangerup, WA.
With terrific balance and structure, this son of BD 133266 had outstanding Lambplan figures of 15.6 for post-weaning weight, -0.80 for PW fat, 2.30 for PW eye muscle depth and a Carcase Plus index of 207.
Mr Garnett followed up eight lots later by paying $9200 for BD 170247Tw, sired by Old Woombie 130219 that was introduced via AI for muscling and eating quality traits.
This ram was equally impressive as the top lot for performance with a Carcase Plus index of 215.
Mr Garnett has been buying from the Funkes for several years.
“We have similar breeding objectives and their sheep have done very well at home,” he said. “We can buy with confidence knowing they complement our breeding program,” he said.
The first Poll Dorset offered, BD 170258, attracted the sale’s second-highest price of $9600. With the highest Carcase Plus index in the catalogue of 229, this impressive and powerful son of Hillcroft Farms 130156 had a PWWT EBV of +18.4 and a 3.1 PEMD. It also attracted two very determined bidders, with David Galpin, Warrawindi stud, Penola, outlasting Leigh Clifford, Gowanbrae stud, Millicent.
While the Poll Dorsets set the sale’s top prices, the 241 White Suffolks offered kicked the sale off on a top note, achieving a 97pc clearance rate.
The first ram offered, BD 170069, made the breed’s top price of $6200, knocked down to John Stephenson, Millinup, WA. This ram was brought forward from its catalogue position of lot 11 after winning the reserve senior championship at the recent Royal Adelaide Show. It was sired by BD 122026 and boasted a Carcase Plus index of 203.
The O’Sullivan family, Mission stud, Baynton, Vic, were strong bidders and secured two of the first six rams offered – BD 179882Tw for $4200 and BD 170853 for $2600.
Peter Button, Ramsay Park stud, Minlaton, also bought two of the White Suffolks for stud duties, paying $2400 and $2700.
His latter purchase was BD 170088Tw, another son of BD 122026 with a Carcase Plus index of 209 offered at lot 19.
For the past 15 years, the Funke family has donated the total proceeds of their lot 19 ram to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and tries to present a better ram in this position each year. The $2700 was a record for lot 19 and brought their generous donation total up to $25,120.
A total of 17 rams were bought by studs – a record for the Funke family – including Bundara Downs’ first stud Suffolk ram.
The second of 20 Suffolks offered, BD 170817 made $3600, bought by Craig Mitchell, bidding via phone for the family’s Gemini Suffolk stud, Werneth, Vic. BD 170817 was sired by WA-bred Lynburn ‘Game Changer’ 150247, which has indeed changed the game for the Bundara Downs Suffolk program. Ten of the 13 Suffolks that sold at auction were ‘Game Changer’ sons, boasting exceptional muscling and early growth in a traditionally later maturing breed.
While the top prices were the headlines, it was the buying strength from the 64 commercial producers that had the biggest effect on the high clearance rate and strong average.
Leon and Tim Schwarz, Muston Creek, Hamilton, Vic, were once again the highest volume buyers with 39 rams – 24 White Suffolks and 15 Poll Dorsets – paying $2000 four times and averaging $1395. Despite a stronger sale overall, they were able to average $20 less than last year, probably due to the greater depth of quality and buying options this year.
“We have been purchasing here for 10 years now, initially because progeny from rams we sourced locally weren’t growing out as we liked, but the performance we’ve got from these rams is very good; they grow quickly and keep going on to heavier weights,” Leon Schwarz said.
Pinkerton Palm Hamlyn & Steen Naracoorte agent Richard Harvey was active throughout the sale. Operating on behalf of seven clients, he compiled a total of two stud and 43 flock rams averaging $1144.
Two of his clients hit double figures – Lannin Farms with 12 averaging $1067, and 11 averaging $864 for Munga Farms.
The second-highest individual volume purchaser was McCarthy Partners. They bought 16 White Suffolk rams from $900 to $1100, averaging $950.
The Graetz Family Trust also operated solely on White Suffolks in the same budget range and were successful bidders on 13, averaging $992.
Chasing high performing White Suffolks was Karwin Nominees, Field, which took home nine rams from $1400 to $2500, averaging $1713.
Repeat Poll Dorset buyer Ben Stark, Stark Grazing, Stewarts Range, bought 10 rams, paying from $1000 to $2200 and averaging $1600.
Successfully bidding on eight White Suffolks and two Poll Dorsets at a $1430 average was Kinyerrie Partnership, Keith.
Matt Fiebig, through Platinum Livestock was also selective and strong on seven White Suffolks and two Suffolks, paying to $1600 and averaging $1267, while Scotglade Pastoral through Elders Lucindale averaged $1100 for eight White Suffolks.
TDC Penola agent Hayden Lambert bought eight White Suffolks and four Poll Dorsets, averaging $808 for clients AP&MA Murdoch.
Rounding out the more prominent buyers were Andrew Bennett, Bendulla, with six White Suffolks and five Suffolks averaging $918, and WEG Collins with 10 White Suffolks averaging $870.
Greg Funke said the sale result was a “vote of confidence in our breeding program”.
“We work in partnerships with our clients to get the best results we can for them and we are absolutely rapt with the support we have received today,” he said.
The sale was conducted by Elders Bordertown, with Laryn Gogel and Ronnie Dix the auctioneers.
“It was an outstanding sale and quality sheep kept coming through all the way from top to toe,” Mr Gogel said.
“Aesthetically they were right and when you looked at the catalogue the figures were outstanding.
“The Funke family continues to challenge us with extra numbers and we continue to line them up and obviously from the results, buyers liked what they saw.”