THE auction hammer was hot at the sixth annual on-property ram sale at Chrome Sheep Studs, Hamilton, last week, where 76 registered buyers took home the entire 419 ram offering.
Stud owners Matthew and Tanya Tonissen enjoyed a stellar sale with a 100 per cent clearance, grossing $513,900 and averaging $1226 per head.
Popularity with the 207 Chromedales offered and sold pushed prices to the sale high of $2600, av $1424.
New Chrome clients, Hassad-owned Barton Station, Moyston, were vigorous bidders throughout the sale purchasing 55 rams to $1200, av $1002 per head. Their purchase included 20 Chromedales, 24 Perendales and 11 Coopworths.
Check out auctioneer Craig Pertzel's comments on the sale here
Marcus Gellert, Kookaburra, Glenthompson, was the winning bidder on the top-priced Chromedale, at $2600. The August-drop ram recorded a birthweight of 0.4kg, weaning weight 6.1kg, post weaning weight 10.2kg, Maternal Index of 130 and measured a PFAT -0.1 and PEMD 1.1.
Like several clients at the Chrome sale, Mr Gellert is transitioning Kookaburra's first-cross flock to a composite-dominated prime lamb operation.
He was attracted to the top ram's PFAT, WWT, Post Eye Muscle Depth (PEMD) of 1.1 and fecal egg counts (PFEC) -58.
"We run a pure Merino flock as well but have been moving to prime lambs because of their lambing percentages, doing ability during summer and self-replacing ability," Mr Gellert said.
"We were willing to pay good money because we've been buying here for six years and know that the rams hold up well, and are in demand by the look of it."
Competing bidder Phil Rees, Erindale, Balmoral, said Erindale was also stepping out of first-cross production due to wool returns and moving to composites to focus on the lamb market.
Mr Rees purchased seven Chromedales to $1400, av $1271.
"Our story is similar to a few blokes here which has made the sale tough and harder to buy-in," he said. "You had to be dedicated to ultimately buy your selected rams during the solid sale."
It was a similar story for new client John Dean, Sarona, Coojar who purchased 12 Chromedale rams, av $1350, to join to their first-cross ewes as self-replacements.
Interest in the Perendale offering was also firm, with 82 rams peaking at $1400, and av $1100.
It was strong going for the Coopworths with 39 rams sold to $1400, av $992.
The first appearance of the Icon Southie at an October Chrome ram sale was met with keen interest, with the small offering of 23 rams sold to $1500, av $1146,
Poll Dorset also proved attractive to buyers, with the 68 rams offered sold to $1500, av $940.
Despite the growing concerns of a tough spring, Manifolds contract manager Leigh Harry, Camperdown, said the solid sale reflected the confidence in the lamb industry.
Mr Harry purchased 13 Poll Dorset rams to $950, and av $800.
"With a tough season up north and one likely turning here, there are still enough signals underpinning the market for serious lamb producers to invest in genetics," he said.
"I think contracts that have been put out and have further given producers confidence, while attracting more producers to transition to prime lamb."
Opening the sale, Mr Tonissen said the maternal indexes this year had taken a "giant leap" forward with nearly half of the Chromedale rams in the top 25 per cent of the LambPlan maternal data base.
"All rams across all breeds are extremely even from top to bottom for type and are undoubtedly the best drop of rams we have produced to-date," he said.
Hamilton agent Robert Pike of JM Ellis & Co said the sale reflected the region's move to prime lambs with a strong emphasis on breeding self-replacements.