An eleventh hour change to the sale order at the Bull Oak Well auction this week led to a new stud record at the Willalooka on-property event.
Originally catalogued at Lot 10, Bull Oak Well Mainland T33, was brought forward at the stud's Angus bull sale on Monday, instead paraded into the ring third.
Met with strong demand from the buyers gallery, the June 2022-drop bull was knocked down for a staggering $40,000 up $13,000 on the stud's 2023 sale and $4000 on the stud record of $36,000.
Tipped as a top bull by stud principal Heath Nickolls' son Harry, the bull was a trait leader for birth weight, 200 day weight, 400 day weight and 600 day weight, with estimated breeding values of +2.5, +59, +111 and +147 respectively.
It was also a trait leader for calving ease with a score of +6.4 and carcase weight with a score in the top 7 per cent of the breed as well as a top 4pc score for scrotal circumference.
Buyers Will and Bridget Watson, Binnowie Angus, Coonalpyn, said the bulls phenotype and figures made it a standout.
"He'll improve some of our lines at home," Will said.
"He'll get put to work with our heifers in August and then probably collect from semen from him as well and go from there."
Another Mainland son, originally catalogued at Lot 3 and sold immediately following the sale topper, was knocked down for $28,000 to Telpara Hills, Tolga, QLD.
It had a score of +4.7 for calving ease and was in the top 20pc of the breed for birthweight with a score of +2.5.
It also had scores of +78 and +9.2 for carcase weight and eye muscle area.
All 54 bulls offered during the sale were sold at auction to an average sale price of $12,111.
Emu Springs, Tintinara, was the volume buyer on the day, picking up five bulls to a top of $15,000 and an average of $12,600.
Mr Nickolls said the sale was underpinned by local support from repeat clients with most bulls sold through Spence Dix & Co and PPHS.
"It was great to see those repeat clients back and buying the bulls they need from the stud," he said.
"Most of our bulls went to properties in the local area from Naracoorte to Meningie and also quite a few back into the Mallee.
"We're really happy to have that support from our local area."
Looking ahead, Mr Nickolls said he was excited to see his next draft of bulls go under the hammer in 2025.
"We have a heap more Mainland bull calves on the ground," he said.
"We also have Paratroopers coming through and a promising sire for us is Mandayen Reebok.
"He's an absolute rockstar and those calves are really gonna turn some heads - we're really looking forward to offering them for the first time next year."
The sale was conducted by Spence Dix & Co and PPHS with Jono Spence at the rostrum.
While there were a lot of familiar faces bidding up a storm at the auction, attendees might've been confused when they noticed an unknown business name printed on a couple of workshirts.
The green shirts, donned by Archie Nickolls, 11, Bull Oak Well, and Ian Johnson, Amherst, were part of an ongoing inside joke between the pair, with the story's origin dating back to late 2022.
At the Nickolls family's field day in 2023, Archie eagerly waited for Ian's arrival to show him the new pocketknife he had been given as a Christmas present as it was not dissimilar to Ian's own pocketknife.
As children are often prone to misplacing items, Ian told Archie if he managed to look after it until the stud's bull sale in a few weeks time then he would buy another bull.
Sure enough, when Ian arrived at the sale, Archie again showed him his pocketknife.
"I knew I'd have to buy an extra bull to hold up my end of the deal," Ian said.
"Well as we went through the catalogue, I picked up four bulls as usual but on the fifth one I did something a little different.
"Before the sale started, I had registered another bidder card under a different name - Pocketknife Pastoral Company.
"When I purchased my final bull I raised that bidder card instead and the auctioneer (Jono Spence) explained the strange name to the crowd which was a bit of a laugh."
Following the sale, Archie's dad, Heath, suggested the pair get shirts made to represent their new "business venture" and a logo was promptly created ahead of this year's sale season.
"(Ian) came to our field day this year and I gave him the shirt and he put it on straight away," Archie said.
Although the shirts are just a fun gesture between the two, Ian said it was part of a bigger picture.
"He's only a little rooster but it's good to see him right into the industry and so enthusiastic," he said.
"Archie and his brothers come from a great family with great parents who are always more than happy to help with anything.
"I think it's really important to keep young kids excited and I hope to keep seeing Archie grow in the industry."
Now owning neighbouring properties, Archie says Ian will be a good contact for him as he looks to his future in farming and the pair vowed to wear their shirts to every Bull Oak Well sale in the future.