*149 of 159 White Suffolk ewes sold to $2200, av $897
*70 of 70 Poll Dorset ewes sold to $1400, av $704
*32 of 32 Suffolk ewes sold to $1800, av $1009
Overall 251 of 261 sold to $2200, av $857
Bundara Downs's sale result of 251 of 261 ewes offered selling to $2200 and averaging $857, across three breeds, was a rewarding result for the dogged determination of the vendors.
In extremely testing circumstances with a COVID-19 national shutdown, the Funke family, Bundara Downs studs, Western Flat, SA, went ahead with their long-planned 5th biennial on-property, three-breed mated ewe sale.
Steve, Ros, Greg and Selena Funke overcame severe logistical challenges to hold the sale with increased input and promotion of on-line sale capabilities, and assistance from staff of sale agents Elders and AuctionsPlus.
To have achieved a 96 per cent clearance with less than 10 buyers in the sale complex, was beyond any pre-sale expectations.
The AuctionsPlus network provided 105 registered online bidders, involving all six mainland states. Collectively placing 676 online bids, purchasing 188 lots or 75pc of lots sold and 88pc of the sale gross.
For the Elders stud stock auctioneers, Tony Wetherall and Laryn Gogel, it was a unique three hour experience, offering 261 sheep in single lots, primarily communicating with bidders they could not see or hear.
"With only a very small buying gallery in attendance, we were optimistic that buyers would be operating through Auctions Plus, but until the sale started we were dealing with the unknown," Tony Wetherall said.
"The result was outstanding, with just eight bidders at the sale, but a huge number online kept it going at a fast pace with us having to have a constant eye on the video screen and just a glance or two at the gallery.
"It was certainly an unusual sale to have 90% of the action on the screen, but with the COVID-19 restrictions, it is one we may well have to get used to," Mr Wetherall said.
At the completion of the sale, all three breeds produced very good results. Because of their greater numbers in making up 61pc of the overall offering, the White Suffolk draft was the only one not to see a complete clearance. The breed contributed 62% of the sale gross. 149 of the 159 White Suffolk lots sold to the overall sale top price of $2200 and averaged $897.
All 70 Poll Dorset lots sold to a $1400 top and averaged $704.
A draft of Suffolks was offered for the first time in this sale, with 32 sold under strong demand, topping at $1800 and averaging $1009.
The sale started with pregnancy-tested-in-lamb (PTIL) White Suffolk ewes, and typically the bidders were initially hesitant while the sale level was found. The first 10 lots, containing what the stud principals considered to be top 2019-drop ewes averaged just $770, 14% below the average for the entire draft.
Brett Picker, Bigga, NSW, operating via Auctions Plus grabbed the first lot at $800 and and buoght five ewes at an average of $820.
From there bidding became stronger with the ewes that attracted more competition regularly exceeding $1000.
Top price of the sale was $2200 paid for lot 96 bought by long-time Suffolk and White Suffolk breeders Bob and Karen Cameron, Kingston, SA, who were present at the sale facility. The lot was Bundara Downs 9867 twin, a 2017 drop daughter of high performance sire Bundara Downs 2261, and scanned in lamb with triplets by Ashmore 80.The Camerons were selective and picked up three White Suffolks and one Suffolk at a $1475 average.
David Pipkorn, Detpa Grove stud, Jeparit, was the only other purchaser to go to $2000 when he successfully bid that for BD 9868 twin, another 2017-drop ewe by BD 2261. Like the sale topper, she was scanned in lamb with triplets, this time to Ella Matta 180100. Mr Pipkorn purchased four select ewes at an $1175 average..
The biggest volume buyers in the White Suffolk draft were Ian and Kathy Ross, Edenhope, who made the most of the opportunity presented to start a new White Suffolk stud with high quality and in-lamb ewes. They purchased 28 ewes, paying to $1100 and averaging $743.
Sara Morgan, Macarthur, went to a top of $1500 in purchasing 16 top ewes at a $988 average while Brodie O'Dea, Pekina, SA, also went to $1500 and averaged $980 for 15 ewes,
The Poll Dorset draft of 70 ewes was dominated by one buyer; Craig Wilson Livestock, Wagga Wagga, NSW. He purchased 56 of this draft, paying to the top of $1400 and averaging $695. His purchases included a further 38 lots at the $600 base price.
The top priced Poll Dorset ewe was BD 9478, a 2017 drop daughter of the high muscle sire Marocara 150049, PTIL with twins by Bundara Downs 170180. This ewe boasted outstanding performance figures including a pre-weaning eye muscle depth EBV of 3.7mm and terminal carcase production (TCP) indices of 223 and 151.4 respectively.
Nicholas Say, Glen Innes, NSW, was the most prominent of the other four buyers in this draft, selecting six ewes to $800 and averaging $700.
The stud's inaugural offering of Suffolks met strong competition with 10 bidders successful, purchasing from one to thirteen ewes. That saw the Suffolks achieve the highest average of the day at $1009.
Peter and Julie Button, Ramsay Park, Minlaton, SA, competed strongly bidding on four ewes, going to the $1800 top, plus two at the $1700 second top price, and averaging $1525. The top priced Suffolk ewe was BD 862, a 2017-drop daughter of Lynburn 150247 and PTIL with twins to Karinya 8123.
Shelley Hedwards, Kick Some Grass, Highton, secured 13 ewes at a $792 average, topping at $1100. Malcolm Schaefer, Lake Ada, Kangaroo Island, SA. operated through Nutrien Ag Solutions' Jordy Heinrich, picking up six Suffolk ewes, twice paying to $1400 and averaging $1167.
In summing up the result, Tony Wetherall said it was a great day for Bundara Downs, Elders as agents, and the industry as a whole in being able to achieve such great success.
"Bundara again presented all three breeds in ideal sale condition for PTIL ewes. The depth of quality was extremely good, both visually, where they exhibited all the renowned qualities of the breeds, and also for performance levels, with the EBVs being second to none. It was quite a spectacle to see the entire offering all penned up," he said.
"The length and depth of effort the Funke family went to, to visually display these qualities through videos and photos for interested clients wishing to compete online through Auctions Plus was exceptional and a great example of their professionalism and dedication, ensuring their product was properly marketed."
Senior principal Steve Funke thanked people for their support.
"It's not often you can have such a successful sale with such a small gallery," he said.
"I wouldn't recommend it as it was quite stressful, but it proves the technology can come through to fruition.
"Considering all the Covid-19 restrictions, without Auctions Plus we certainly would have seen a vastly different result, so thank you to them. Likewise, thank you to Elders for their efforts; it's nice to have a corporate company with which you can have a meaningful and productive partnership.
"It is extraordinary times, but in general we were very pleased with how well the ewes came up under the restrictive conditions. To have been so well supported is extremely pleasing, so on behalf of the family, thank you to everyone online and here for your support; it has made all the work and stress worthwhile," he said.
Auctioneers were Tony Wetherall and Laryn Gogel.