Coming into a selling season against the ominous backdrop of a falling lamb and mutton market, SA's leading stud stock auctioneers were in agreeance that terminal, shedding and British breed ram breeders fared reasonably well during this season's ram sales.
The buoyancy of White Suffolk and Poll Dorset sales was considered a highlight, with clearances generally in the 90 per cent region and averages back less than expected at $1000 to $1400.
Nutrien's Gordon Wood and Elders' Tony Wetherall both acknowledged that it was a definite down year in the cyclic nature of the Border Leicester market, with both clearances and averages back significantly for the majority of studs.
Mr Wood considered the general washup of terminal sale results as an "amazing outcome", given depressed lamb and mutton markets.
"The greatest surprise was that we sold as many as we did," he said.
"I know first hand there were some nervous breeders coming into those sales and we were unsure where we were going to land as far as clearance goes.
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"Ultimately, that's the end game to sell as many as you can and the average will be determined by the buyer in the crowd, not the agents or the vendors."
Mr Wetherall said he was perhaps more pessimistic about how terminal ram sales would fare than what eventually transpired, saying White Suffolks and Poll Dorsets were a particular bright note.
"Poll Dorsets and White Suffolks in particular held really firm," he said.
"Averages were similar to back a fraction compared to last year, and clearances were solid generally. Suffolks were generally solid too.
"The ones that took a hit were Border Leicesters. Some more prominent studs came through ok, but there was a lack of demand compared to the last few years with more numbers around and greater supply."
The breed's demand is expected to pick up and follow its customary cycle in coming years.
A market that is more of a wait-and-see prospect is shedding breeds.
In recent years, breeds like Australian Whites and Dorpers have thrived on the back of issues like shearer availability, but Merinos were thought to have won back some market share this year due to providing a dual income while the meat market was low.
Mr Wetherall and Mr Wood both thought sales fared well considering the year, but demand had waned.
"As soon as that meat market dipped, and the wool market was still paying bills, people just stopped pushing so hard that way (to shedders)," Mr Wetherall said.
"It's a young market and will get there but the supply has outstripped demand because of that check in demand caused by the wool and meat markets being where they are."
Mr Wetherall is of the opinion that there'd be many producers "sitting on the fence" and waiting to see how markets moved in the next 12 months before deciding which way to go when it came to the question of running a wool breed or shedding breed.
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Mr Wood said with the meat market at a 20-year low the worth of wool - even though having its challenges to get off - had shown it was financially rewarding.
"Whilst we may not have seen a large number of people walk away from shedding breeds, it wasn't a year where we saw people walking away from wool breeds," he said.
While it wasn't easy picking highlights among a number of solid sales this season, both agents agreed the Day families' Allendale and Day's Whiteface four-breed auction (where 355 of 426 rams sold) at Bordertown was noteworthy.
Mr Wood also nominated Ella Matta's White Suffolk, Maternal Composite and Poll Merino sale (278 of 348 rams averaged $1204) at Parndana as strong, while Mr Wetherall said Ashmore White Suffolks (193 of 203 rams averaged $1447) at Wasleys was right up there.
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