*Total clearance of 20 Southdown ewes sold to $2000, av $1370
*68 of 76 Southdown rams sold to $11,400, av $1947
*Total clearance of 12 Charollais/terminal composite-cross rams sold to $1600, av $1133
*8 of 14 Southdown/terminal composite-cross rams sold to $1800, av $1175
*53 of 56 White Suffolk rams sold to $3200, av $1689
*50 of 56 Poll Dorset rams sold to $2400, av $1471
IT WAS a milestone day for more than one reason at Fairbank sheep stud's on-property ram sale in Hagley, Tas.
The stud was celebrating its 100th anniversary, and in its offering of 234 rams and ewes, it reached a top price of $11,400 - setting the record for the highest-priced Southdown sheep sold at auction.
The 234 lots offered included Southdown rams and ewes, Charollais/terminal composite-cross rams, Southdown/terminal composite-cross rams, White Suffolk rams and Poll Dorset rams, of which 211 sold to average $1779 overall.
The record-priced Southdown ram was Lot 27, tag 210915, who was sired by F190994, who was the previous ram to hold the Australian record.
It was purchased by the oldest Southdown stud in Australia - Kirkdale Southdowns, Evandale, Tas, in conjunction with Nedelle Southdowns, Hawkesdale.
Andrew Hogarth and Aneika Crosswell, Kirkdale, purchased the ram on behalf of the syndicate on the day and said they actually expected to spend more money on him.
"We had more money up our sleeves in case we needed it," Mr Hogarth said.
"We were on the phone to Ned and he said we may as well buy another one with the leftover money so we bought Lot 32 as well."
He said they had seen the ram at the Royal Launceston Show last month where it won an interbreed ribbon, and knew then they wanted to buy him.
"He's a good sheep and exactly what we're after," he said.
"He's not huge, but neat and tidy and very correct."
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Mr Hogarth said he would use the ram with his ewes in March next year, and get semen collected for Nedelle.
The following year, they would swap so the ram was on the ground at Nedelle and Kirkdale would use semen.
The fifth-generation Southdown breeder was also gearing up for his own on-property ram sale next week.
The record ram recorded figures of 0.18 birth weight, 8.2 weaning weight and 11.8 post-weaning weight.
Meanwhile, the buyer of the record-priced ram's sire - which was purchased in 2020 - Gordon Branson, Banquet stud, Mortlake, bought the second top-priced ram at this sale.
Mr Branson - who had planned to attend the sale in person but after being inundated with rain, was busy bailing wet silage - said Fairbank rams were proven sires.
"Two years ago I bought three rams from Fairbank and they just breed so well," he said.
"It shows that if you buy quality, it'll pay off for you."
He planned to join the ram - as well as two others purchased on behalf of him by Nutrien Victorian stud stock agent Nick Farley - to mostly White Suffolk ewes at the end of December.
In the offering of 20 Southdown ewes, Zac Wojtowicz, Redgum Southdowns, Winchelsea, purchased eight of them.
Mr Wojtowicz - who also runs Kelvin Grove Hampshire Downs and Whispering Pines Ryelands - only established his Southdown stud earlier this year.
The 22-year-old has 25 ewes at home and was eager to buy big at Fairbank to increase his flock.
This was his first-time purchasing at the Tasmanian stud and he said he was impressed by the quality of the sheep.
"I first saw them at the Royal Geelong Show a month ago," he said.
"They've got good hindquarters, very good structure, and they're just a true Southdown type."
Another young bidder Angus Summers, Somerset, Tas, bought his first-ever ram at the sale to help establish his stud Chasm Park Southdowns.
He said he liked Fairbank sheep's "size, shape and length".
Coming from a cattle family, he said he was excited to venture into the sheep industry.
His grandfather David Russell helped him make the purchase.
Fairbank stud principal Chris Badcock said it was "always nice" to be rewarded with a huge top price, but "that's not the name of the game".
"Our aim is to produce commercially-relevant animals and if people isolate certain ones as being stand outs, we're certainly humbled by that, but that's not what we're doing it for," he said.
Mr Badcock said that ram was a stand-out ram that they considered keeping for themselves.
"But given it was our 100th year, we said we would offer the entire drop and not retain any," he said.
He said he was "immensely proud" of the 100-year milestone.