IT HAS been a tough year for the Heinrich family, Parndana, starting with the impact of the horrific Kangaroo Island bushfires, before COVID-19 added extra uncertainty and stress.
But on Friday, the family had reason to celebrate, with all but one of the 308 White Suffolk, Maternal Composite and Poll Merinos offered at their annual Ella Matta ram sale cleared at an impressive average of $2326.
The sale attracted more than 80 registered bidders, plus 33 users logged on to the AuctionsPlus network.
An impressive 99 per cent of the 200 White Suffolks were in the top 10pc nationally on the Lamb Eating Quality index across all terminal sire breeds, while 90pc were at that level on the Terminal Carcase Production index.
All 200 White Suffolks sold to the sale high of $10,400, averaging $2337, while all 48 Maternal Composites sold to $4800 twice, averaging $2621, and 59 of 60 Poll Merinos topped at $3800 three times and averaged $2946.
The top price of $10,400 was bid on AuctionsPlus by the Weidemann family, Sunnydale stud, Rupanyup, Vic, for lot 2, Ella Matta 190092 Tw, which was sired by EM 170300, the ram sold to Damien Hawker, Omad stud, Kaniva, Vic, two years ago for $15,500.
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EM 190092 had numerous figures in the top 10pc, including 11.9 for weaning weight, 19.5 for post-weaning weight, 3.5 for eye muscle depth, plus 169.8 on the LEQ index and a TCP index of 167.1.
Five lots later the Weidemanns added EM 190277, a son of Woolumbool 173980, for $4400.
Neighbour and long-time client Sam Mumford usually buys big numbers, but as a result of losses from the fires, only took home two rams this year, paying the sale's second-highest price of $6200 and then $3600 for two more EM 170300 sons.
Suffolk breeder James Cleland, Strathalbyn, recently bought a line of good Warburn White Suffolk ewes. He was looking for an outstanding ram for both phenotype and genotype to go over them. He found this at lot 4, successfully bidding $6000 for EM 190333 Tw, also by EM 170300 and with a LEQ index of 161.6 and a TCP index of 163.
John Hayes, Glenfinnan Prime Lamb Genetics, Young, NSW, sent phone orders for two top young rams and was successful on both. He paid $6000 for lot 5 - EM 190094, by Hillcroft Farms 110548 - which had a LEQ index of 166.2 and was 168 on the TCP index. He then paid $5600 for another EM 170300 son, EM 190158 at lot 14.
The 13 rams sold to stud or ram breeding enterprises averaged a very healthy $5130.
Alex McGorman, Thornby, Sanderson and KI, secured 28 rams this year, averaging $1971. He was able to purchase his first 14 rams at an $1879 average, but as the competition heated up, the last 14 averaged $2064.
Tim Buck, Buck Pastoral, Parndana, was also looking for bigger numbers and was successful on 19 rams, averaging $1984.
One buyer who was prepared to get in early and choose the best rams he could find was Mike Smith, Gosse. He bid strongly up to $2800 in purchasing 14 rams, averaging $2257.
Taking eight White Suffolks were the Berry family, MacGillivray, paying to $2200; Steve and Lucy Morgan, Parndana, to $2400; Darren and Fiona Sanders, Keith, to $2300; John Bell and family, Wisanger, to $2200; and Will Kettle, Wisanger, to $1800.
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The success of the White Suffolks flowed straight on to the draft of 48 Maternal Composites, which averaged almost $1500 more than last year.
The top of $4800 was paid twice by long-term client Andrew Fogden, Gosse. Both rams were by Cloven Hills 170188 sire and had Maternal Carcase Production Plus indices in the top 1pc nationally. Mr Fogden bought four rams in total at a $4350 average.
Peter Cooper, Cooper Farming, Parndana, was the volume buyer, picking up 11 to $3000 and averaging $2473. He also bought eight White Suffolks, averaging $2136.
Twelve buyers were successful in bidding on this draft with Peter Lovering, Haines, six to $3800; Damien Willmott and Julie Boyle, five to $2400; Tim Larcombe, Gosse, four to $3400; Rob Kelly, Pioneer Bend, four to $2000; and Rick Morris, Gosse, three to $4200, being the most prominent.
The Poll Merino top price of $3800 was paid three times. Elise Kealy, bidding via phone for her family's program based at Patyah, Vic, paid $3800 for EM 190124, sired by Wallaloo Park 172032. This ram had a Dual Purpose Plus index of 176.8, and Ella Matta has kept a semen interest in this ram for their stud use.
The Kealy family later added two more rams at $2400 and $1200.
Ryan Kluska, Kiandra stud, Bordertown, bid through Elders agent Bernard Seal and was successful on EM 190267, also at $3800. By the same Wallaloo Park sire, this ram also had plenty of national leading traits culminating in a DP+ index of 173.5.
Later in the catalogue, the Wurst family, Parndana, paid $3800 for EM 109110, sired by Miramoona 140012, with a DP+ index of 176.2.
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Bill Walker, Classings Ltd, Murray Bridge, bought two rams for the Prime family, Nantoura stud, Wharminda, paying $3400 for EM 190042 - with a DP+ index of 174.5 - and $2400 for EM 100184, which had a DP+ index of 173.0.
Thornby was also the volume buyer of Poll Merinos, taking 10 to $2400 and averaging $1830.
Not far behind was regular local Poll Merino volume buyer Geoff Nutt, with nine rams to $3000. Simon and Madeline Kelly, Mine Creek Partners, Stokes Bay, bought five to a $2600 top, and the Tremaine family, Parndana, also picked up five rams to $2300.
"We had no idea what to expect this year with so many of our regular clients affected by the fires, so to get this level of support was beyond our wildest imagination really," Ella Matta senior principal Andrew Heinrich said.
Nutrien auctioneer Leo Redden praised the Heinrichs on the quality and presentation of their offering, while Elders auctioneer Tony Wetherall said the sale was outstanding, "especially for what the Heinrich family have been through to get to today".
"Not many people could put up this number of rams with their outstanding visual appeal and numbers to match right through to the very last lot," Mr Wetherall said.
The sale was conducted by Nutrien and Elders.
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