AFTER last year delivered depressed and erratic returns across all sections of the sheep and lamb market, the rolling records of this year's off-shears season have been a welcomed result for vendors but the peak could be yet to come.
With expectations for prices for young ewes to surpass last week's $404 state record made at Marrabel's sale, excitement about off-shear sales in the coming weeks is escalating and Spence Dix & Co's Rodney Dix can foresee more records being achieved.
In recent weeks, prices have reached new levels at $390 and then $404.
In a hope to not put the cart before the horse, Mr Dix was cautious to predict the upcoming Keith Merino Breeders Association's annual off-shears sale on October 15 would obliterate the recent record.
"The sale is typically the dearer sale in the state because South East buyers have not really began purchasing yet," he said.
"I would say that it could eclipse the recent record at Marrabel."
Among the 17,000 ewes offered by Elders, Spence Dix & Co and Nutrien Ag Solutions, Lines Gum Hill, Moorundie, Allans Warrawee Park and Rices Creek bloodlines will be offered.
COVID-19 restrictions forced the sale to operate solely online last year and its return to the saleyards in October should translate into solid prices, according to Mr Dix.
"No doubt the stock with present in excellent condition and numbers are up on last year," he said. "The recent rain in NSW and Vic will generate the online interest and demand from restockers on the ground will also be prevalent."
The $404 state record-making Moorundie-blood ewes from Tiller & Thompson, Balaklava, gave the inaugural Spence Dix & Co sale at Marrabel last week a reputation for delivering some of the best genetics in the Mid North.
Nuriootpa livestock agent Daniel Doecke said the entire sale exceeded expectations and hoggets were $20 dearer.
"We did our homework before the sale - we knew we'd have repeat buyers to create the bidding competition.
"Buyers were given the opportunity to bid on 5000 hoggets in a row - this helped create confidence. But to go over the $400 mark was fantastic and pretty unexpected."
Young ewes are exceeding $9 a kilogram and mutton at $6-$7/kg while Lameroo off-shears sale on Friday is expected to also push the $400 barrier.
Elders Lameroo agent Jarryd Finch was not sure what to expect at the sale but believed the yarding was as good as buyers could get.
"The lead runs of 1.5-year-old ewes should sell exceptionally well. I am not sure if we will get there or not.
"Mixed-aged ewes will also sell really well."
Two dispersal lines will be offered, with 2050 Lines Gum Hill-bld hoggets and mixed aged ewes from local vendor Flohr & Co being offered and Clemara Tradings will offer 1360 Lampata-bld hoggets, ewe lambs and older ewes.
"It will be an all-round great sale with restockers and repeat buyers dominating the bidding," he said.
Late last month, the off-shears sale held at Pinnaroo also surpassed predictions with Sandalwood Poll-bld young ewes from EV&SM Francis, Mindarie, making $390.
PPPH's Paul Kinnaird said the sale met expectations.
"The demand for ewes meant the sale was stronger than expected," he said.
"There is stability in the market and it will make prices pass $400."
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