STRONG interest from stud buyers, as well as good pastoral support, help lift the top price and average at the Lawral Park 16th annual on-property SAMM ram sale at Ungarra on Monday.
With six buyers from studs across Australia, the sale reached a high of $6750, for lot 3, with full clearance of 80 rams offered and an average price of $1428 - a jump of $328 on last year.
The top price was paid by the Cronin family, Bunkin Prime SAMM stud, Dumbleyung, WA, with bidding carried out by Justin Thompson, Landmark Tumby Bay.
Terry and Lyn Cronin had inspected the ram previously, seeking an outcross for their stud, while on an eight-week holiday across Australia, and then again at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show, Bendigo, Vic, where it was sashed the supreme champion SAMM exhibit.
The 144 kilogram, twin ram, had an eye muscle depth of 48.6 millimetres, fat depth of 10.3mm and a 21.8 micron fleece.
Lawral Park stud principal Campbell Lawrie said the ram was from sire 'Big Al', bought from Royston stud, Napier, WA, which had been breeding well for them.
While he considered retaining the ram, he said he still had the sire and a second drop of progeny on the ground that were already looking good.
"This was a golden opportunity to get (this ram) out in the field," he said.
The second highest price was paid by Andrew Oldfield, Toldu stud, Keith, with stud adviser Karen Dennis, Koppio, carrying out the bidding.
The twin ram, which weighed 130kg,with 49EMD, 8.9fat and 22.7M, was reserve champion SAMM ram at Bendigo.
Ms Dennis said both she and Mr Oldfield had inspected the rams and selected their picks.
"This ram was a balanced option with the wool and meat attributes," she said.
The ram will stay with Lawral Park and compete at the Royal Adelaide Show before going to its new home.
Also bidding early in the catalogue was Josh Sheridan, AJ&PA McBride, Braemar, Burra, who paid $4500 for lot 5, a 128kg ram with 50.1EMD, 7.9fat and 21.3M.
"We take the rams home and breed our own rams to go out," he said.
"We like to buy a decent ram and get 50 ram lambs out a year.
"We've got the size in our sheep, so we're trying to increase our wool covering and make sure they're dual-purpose."
Of the 80 rams offered and sold, 54 will head to interstate buyers.
Rams will go to new homes in WA, Vic, Tas and NSW - with NSW buyers claiming 44 of these.
The NSW raid was led by two new pastoral clients. Windalle Propietors, Menindee, NSW, bought 22 rams to $1000, averaging $842.86, while TA Dye, Wongalina Station, via Hay, NSW, bought 10 at $800.
Mr Lawrie said support was "fantastic to see", and also helped sell their private selection rams.
This was particularly welcome in a year when about 80 per cent of his clients were in drought-affected areas, such as Qld, and NSW, with even his Tas clients having one of their worst seasons on record.
There were nine new buyers among the 21 registered bidders.
This included Steve McKeough, Dawson, via Peterborough, who bought eight rams to $1600, averaging $1175.
Mr McKeough runs a predominantly Merino-base flock with SAMM rams.
He said he had been watching the Lawral Park rams for quite some time and needed to buy some extra rams this year.
He breeds lambs for the feedlot market and soiught the early-growth of the SAMM.
After buying three rams last year, in their first visit to Lawral Park, return buyer TJ&KA Pietsch, Bordertown, picked up five rams to $3400, averaging $2240.
Trevor Pietsch said he was impressed with the evenness of the lineup.
Other volume buyers included Nergeson Pty Ltd, Junee, NSW, with eight rams to $1400, averaging $1114, and JP Davie & Co, Hobart, with five rams to $1200, averaging $1080.
The sale was conducted by Elders Lower Eyre Peninsula with Elders' stud stock's Tony Wetherall auctioneering.
He said the display of rams exhibited all the quality of the breed with an evenness "second to none".
"Testimony is six stud bidders and buyers from NSW and WA here for these genetics and the many repeat buyers coming here," he said.