The inaugural Merino ram sale at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show (ASWS) in Bendigo in July kicked off a big year of ram sales in Victoria.
Despite concerns during the sale that it was not matching the same highs as last year, the sale average only fell $515, and clearance rate 4 per cent.
Of the 125 rams offered by multiple vendors, 97 sold to a top of $20,000 three times, and an average price of $5041.
A particular ram from Nerstane Merino stud, Woolbrook, NSW, sired two of the three top-priced rams, and the third sale topper was another by Nerstane, proving its genetics were in high demand.
Stud principal Jock McLaren said it was an exciting result to be involved in all three top-priced lots.
One of the other tops was by Coryule Merino stud, Willowvale, and it was a record price for the stud, doubling its former top price of $10,000, recorded at the Ballarat Merino sale last year.
Stud manager Craig Trickey was blown away, but thought the ram was of high quality.
“He’s broad from the head all the way down, you could almost put a saddle on him,” Mr Trickey said.
The third top was sold by Roseville Park, Dubbo, NSW.
Later that month, nine vendors offered rams at the 29th annual Ballarat Merino ram sale, selling to a top of $4750.
For the first time in its 29-year history, the sale was held as part of the Ballarat Sheep Show, which leant more atmosphere to the occasion.
Of the 32 Merino and Poll Merino rams offered, 27 sold, scoring an average price of $2796, which was down just over $500 on last year’s average of $3356.
Just a month later, in August, Hamilton’s Sheepvention celebrated its 40th anniversary.
It had double the reason to celebrate, with the pen of five ram sale hitting a record $3675 average.
Of 290 Merino, Corriedale and Prime SAMM rams offered, 261 sold, recording a 90 per cent clearance rate.
It was Geoff and Bernadette Davidson’s Moorundie Poll Merino stud, Keith, SA, that sold the sale topper, a result they secured for the third year in a row.
On-property ram sales followed this run of multi-vendor sales, with records broken at multiple.
Stud Park South Merino stud, Willaura, recorded a record average of $2841, Chandpara Southdown stud, Tylden, recorded a record top price of $7500, Melrose Merino stud, Nurrabiel, hit a record average of $2072, and Mount Yulong Poll Merino stud, Telangatuk East, did the same, setting a new record average of $2115.
Multiple agents credited the successful Merino sales to the high demand and record-breaking prices that wool has been making.
The spring bull sale season saw a handful of Victorian studs offer an impressive lineup of stock.
The Branson family’s Banquet Angus, Mortlake, realised a record top price for its spring sale of $32,000.
Banquet sold 43 of 44 offered at an average of $6767.
Weeran Angus, Byaduk, drew on support from a gallery of return and new clients to increase its sale average by $775 on last year, to $5760.
Barwidgee Angus stud, Caramut, sold 32 bulls at its on-property sale, which saw bidding top at $10,000.
Across the Bass Strait in Tasmania, Landfall Angus, Launceston, sold all 103 bulls offered at its on-property sale, hitting a top of $16,500, and an average of $8714, that was up by $476 on last year.
Royal Melbourne Show
It is always a big two weeks in the showring when local and interstate breeders converge on the Melbourne Showgrounds for the Royal Show, and this year was no different.
The judges made difficult decisions, picking winners in every class to the supreme champions of each breed in the sheep and cattle judging.
On the first weekend of the show, there was one particular stud that dominated in the interbreed judging of the sheep competition.
Allendale stud, Bordertown, SA, won both supreme ewe and ram with two different breeds, a Poll Dorset and a Suffolk.
The ram was a clear favourite, receiving four first places and one second from the five judges.
One of those judges who put him on top also selected him when he did the Suffolk breed judging, Will Milroy, Rangeview stud, Pipers Rivers, Tasmania.
Mr Milroy said the ram was “very hard to fault”, with beautiful style and muscling all the way through.
Allendale’s interbreed supreme ewe was a Poll Dorset, under 1.5 years, and had previously been sashed champion Poll Dorset ewe at the Royal Adelaide Show.
The feature breed for the year was the Texel breed, and in a return to showing ewes at the Royal after a six-year hiatus, Cypress Park stud, Cardigan Valley, won supreme with its champion ewe.
The following weekend, the cattle came out onto the ring, and it was a Red Angus cow with a calf-at-foot, exhibited by Black Diamond Angus and Red Angus, Cowra, NSW, in conjunction with GK Livestock, Dalby, Qld, that was sashed supreme beef breed exhibit.
While Black Diamond was not shy of show success, it was a special win given the seasonal conditions they had battled to get to the show.
“We’ve tried our best to look after our main breeding herd,” Black Diamond stud principal Christie Kennedy said.
In its feature breed showing, a Red Poll bull, which swept all before him at the Sydney Royal two and a half years prior, again impressed the judges at Melbourne.
Judge Peter Cook, Barana Simmentals, NSW, said the exhibit, Cactus Joe, was a big, powerful bull.
“He’s certainly got some meat and power through him and he stands very square,” Mr Cook said.
An industry-first event was launched in July this year, which gave lamb producers the opportunity to hear from consumers about the future of the industry.
Lambition, hosted by Fairfax Agricultural Media, which coincided with the ASWS, included a menu full of lamb dishes.
The concept of the menu was to showcase the versatility and simplicity of putting lamb on Australian households’ menus, and this was reiterated in a live cooking demonstration by Meat and Livestock Australia corporate chef Sam Burke.
A question and answer panel dissected future challenges and opportunities facing the industry, including declining lamb consumption, eating quality, live exports, and saleyard pressure.