RUFFY commercial sheep producer David Sleigh, Sleigh Pastoral, claimed the top-priced ram at this year's North East Merino ram sale for $2700 - an impressive outlay for a Poll Merino.
Bidding for the Toland Merino ram was done on behalf of Mr Sleigh by Australian Wool Network sheep and wool specialist Dale Bruns, Hamilton.
Mr Sleigh has been a long-time client of Toland Merino, Violet Town, having done business with the stud for more than 25 years, and was clearly impressed with the ram's figures of 20.2 micron, 3.7 standard deviation (SD), co-efficient of variation (CV) of 18.4 per cent, 99.7pc comfort factor (CF) and 62 curve.
Mr Sleigh finished with three rams averaging $2267.
Overall, the sale was solid, selling 38 of the 52 rams on offer from seven studs with the average price down by only $8 on that of last year to $1293.
Mr Bruns said the ram had a beautiful long staple and well-nourished wool on a true all-purpose carcase.
Toland Merino principal Phil Toland said he sold 16 similar rams at Bendigo, Ballarat and Hamilton, where he sold to a top of $3500.
The Tolands had a total clearance of their 12 rams on offer and averaged $1520.
"The results give us great confidence in the lead-up to our sale," Mr Toland said.
"Sleigh Pastoral is one of our oldest clients and has been with us for about 25 years.
"They always buy our top-end rams."
Major buyers at the sale included JE Earl Pty Ltd, Cavendish, who bought four Poll Merino rams averaging $875.
Wattlebank Pastoral, Locksley, bought three Poll Merino rams to $1300, av $1000, and Fox Pastoral, Mansfield, also bought three Poll Merino rams to $1600, av $1200.
Elders stud stock southern zone manager Jim Bruce said overall the sale went as expected.
"The sheep were in good condition and the market was firm on last year," Mr Bruce said.
"The majority here were repeat buyers, which tells us this sale is healthy."
Wirrate Merino stud, Nagambie, was awarded the champion ram title before the sale, with a Merino ram with figures of 18.2M, 3.1SD, 16.9pc CV and 100pc CF. It sold for $2050.
Judge Stefan Spiker, Advance Livestock Services, Hamilton, said there were just four points separating the eight rams in the final.
"The ram scored very well in the live measurement for fat and muscle and scored very well in the raw fleece data," Mr Spiker said.
Bennmann Merino stud, Everton, won best wool ram at the sale.