Online interest almost outnumbered those shivering in the shed at Ridgway Advance Poll Merino stud's annual on-property sale, with nearly 500 bids taken from AuctionsPlus.
This online action from three states, along with 34 registered bidders on site, produced a great result for David, Karen and Devon Ridgway at their Bordertown property on Wednesday.
They sold an extra 21 rams compared to 2020's sale.
In the breakdown 150 of 176, largely April and May 2020 drop, rams averaged $2257, although the $7200 high didn't come close to the $12,300 on-property record set last year.
The AuctionsPlus catalogue was viewed more than 6000 times and the 38 logged online bidders operated on 71 per cent of the 176 lots through Nutrien Bordertown's Jack Guy.
Thirteen buyers securing 63 rams, some sight unseen.
Among these online buys was the sale's early high, lot 12- an 18.1 micron ram weighing 113 kilograms.
As heavy rain fell on the roof the ram was knocked down for $7000 to John Lamb Pastoral Company, Conargo, NSW.
Just two lots later this was surpassed when Geoff and Sue Zacher, Coonalpyn, outlaid $7200 for lot 14, impressed by the "stylish, well nourished wool" and great depth of body on their new sire.
The 18.0 micron sale topper had fleece measurements including a standard deviation of 2.3, coefficient of variation of 12.8 and comfort factor of 100 per cent.
It weighed 108kg with an eye muscle depth of 46mm and fat depth of 9.5mm.
Both these high price rams were sons of Ridgway Advance 082- who has produced many top price rams, including last year's $12,300 on-property record breaker.
"He is one of our major rams and he bred a ram that did really well in that first (SA Merino) sire evaluation trial at Keyneton," stud princopal David Ridgway said.
"You can always produce rams but that sire has produced a lot of breeding ewes that have brought our eye muscles up."
Brothers, Stewart and Gavin Brophy, Tintinara, paid $5400 for a 19.2M ram weighing 107kg with the largest eye muscle depth in the catalogue, an exceptional 52mm.
It was one of the Brophys' three top end buys.
Long-time clients RHL&BS Groocock, Lowan Vale, paid $5200 for an impressive April 2020 drop by another homebred sire RA476.
The Groococks bought five rams with their tally also including the $2800 highest price spring 2020-drop ram.
Overall 12 of 14 spring drop rams, many out of the stud's top ewe lambs, averaged $1650.
The sale's biggest buyer was C&A Woidt, Cookes Plains who followed the auctioneers closely buying 15 rams to $3600, averaging $2247.
The Woidts also bought another four rams on a second account for Kintra Pastoral, Coomandook.
Other major buyers included VJ Rathjen, Birdwood, who secured 10 rams to $4200, averaging $2600 and Classings Limited's Bill Walker bought six rams to $2400, averaging $1733 for Netallie Station, via Wilcannia, NSW.
Most of the passed in lots occurred when the auction progressed from the main shed to the ecoshelter.
The goals we set years ago are everything that you are seeing in the catalogue today from the wool to the shape of the sheep.- David Ridgway, Ridgway Advance stud principal
There were plenty of bargains for those who followed the sale to the end with 19 of these 40 rams averaging $1158, including 14 at $1000.
Mr Ridgway said they were pleased with the result considering the COVID-19 restrictions which had made it difficult for their interstate clients and potential clients to cross the border and inspect the rams prior to the sale.
He likened their sheep breeding focus to the training regime of Olympics athletes saying both required three basics; commitment, passion and goals.
"Karen and I made a commitment 25 years ago to move down from the Mallee because we were passionate about breeding Merino sheep," he said.
"The goals we set years ago are everything that you are seeing in the catalogue today from the wool to the shape of the sheep, every year we analyse the sheep we have lined up and we can see the shape and consistency of the sheep are getting better every year."
Nutrien stud stock auctioneer Richard Miller had high praise for the line-up describing them as a consistent type of "modern smart white crimpy wools on plenty of frame with plenty of cutting ability.
"They had amazing eye muscle and carcase data on them, for Merino sheep to consistently have 47mm to 50mm on eye muscle depth is a credit to what they are trying to do here," he said.
Fellow auctioneer, Nutrien stud stock manager Gordon Wood said the stud's dedication to produce a "perfectly balanced Poll Merino" had seen them offering "fast growing, square animals" with great fibre.
He said AuctionsPlus had been "massive" for the sale's success with Ridgway Advance having clients spread across and SA, NSW and Vic.
"There are some new ones showing interest in the sheep that have been unable to look but we think some of those have bought online almost on spec so congratulations on them for showing faith in the sheep," Mr Wood said.
Nutrien Ag Bordertown conducted the sale.
Ridgway Advance has 28 rams reserved for the Classings Classic sale at Murray Bridge on Monday, September 6 and two rams had been earmarked for the Adelaide Merino ram sale.
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