Some of the Santa Gertrudis breed's most astute judges and stud cattle operators were drawn to the Watson family's Watasanta annual bull sale outside of Tamworth on Wednesday where red bulls averaged $9041 alone.
Neil and Rosalie Watson and family offered a "best of the best" line up of 39 bulls with 32 of them selling for an 82 per cent clearance and an overall sale average of $7937.
The offering featured 31 traditional Santa Gertrudis bulls, with 24 sold under the hammer for a $9041 average and $23,000 top price.
A further eight Black Santa Gertrudis bulls were cleared to average $4625 and top at $8000.
All 10 registered yearling heifers sold to average $1300/head.
The bidding action was dominated by some of Queensland's top Santa Gertrudis breeders including Waco Cattle Company, Mungallalla, Triple S Santas, Dalby, and the Perrett family, Wandoan.
But it was Queensland commercial breeders and long term supporters Ashley and Doris McKay of Torres Park at Augathella and Cherry Hill, Injune, who won a spirited bidding war for the polled 25-month-old sire, Watasanta Night-Sky 2388.
By Hardigreen Park Ringer J126 and out of Watasanta 1657, who went back to the $32,000 Canowindra In The Groove, the bull weighed 950 kilograms with P8 and rib fats of 13 and 10 millimetres and an eye muscle area of 132 square centimetres.
He had one of the highest scrotal circumferences in the catalogue of 43 centimetres and and intramuscular fat score of six per cent.
The couple run a 2000 head Santa Gertrudis breeding herd turning off feeder cattle for the EU market. Steers are offloaded either into the Roma saleyards or to JBS' Beef City outside of Toowoomba with any fat heifers bound for Stanbroke.
Having been a bulk buyer at last year's Watasanta sale, this year the couple again took home the biggest line, with their five bull purchases averaging $12,800.
Mr McKay said weight gain, marbling and docility were among the traits they were selecting for and their top priced bull expressed that, especially with a 1.25 daily weight gain.
"People look at us sometimes and wonder why we pay so much when we run a commercial operation but we get that back in what we get for our commercial cattle," he said.
"We have been buying here for about four years...there are some beautiful bulls here today.
"There are a lot of good judges buying bulls today. You don't get a better judge than Alastair Bassingthwaighte."
Bidding peaked early during sale proceedings with the first seven bulls averaging $13,800.
Among them were the second top price bull of the sale, the $20,000 Watasanta New Comer 2344 who was crowned reserve senior champion at the Sydney Royal Show.
The 26-month-old son of Hardigreen Park Ringer J126 and out of Watasanta 1579 was secured by the Fletcher family of Tamworth and was the heaviest bull of the catalogue at 1006 kilograms.
He had a 1.27 daily weight gain, P8 and rib fats of 13 and eight millimetres and the second biggest EMA at 142sq cm.
The sale featured 28 sons of Watasanta's headline sire, Hardigreen Park Ringer J126, with 25 selling under the hammer to average $10,277.
He continues to pay dividends for the stud who unknowingly secured the bull a few years ago when the then 13-year-old Tom Watson put in a successful bid for $35,000.
Having used the sire for their maximum three year tenure, Watasanta stud principal Neil Watson said next year would be the final opportunity to secure the sought after progeny.
"The classification rate (of Ringer progeny) on the bulls has been probably 90 per cent and on the females we got 100 per cent classified, which not many people get," he said.
"While this line is a good line, the ones we have got coming through for next year are phenomenal. The temperament of the bulls is so good, we are number one on temperament."
Given the dry conditions, this year's draft had been cut back and Mr Watson said only the best of the best were offered.
"I was proud to stand over every bull right up until the end," he said.
"The draft of bulls averaged just under 900 kilograms, they averaged 130 square centimetre eye muscle and they averaged 40 centimetre scrotal."
It seems the future of the Watasanta herd is in good hands. It was Mr Watson's other son, Jack, who picked the top price bull despite his father shifting him back to lot 23.
"He had him in the top pen and of course he is in the police academy for 12 months and when he did the draft I swapped (the bull) around behind his back and put him in a pen of thicker set bulls down the back of the sale," he said.
In total there were 44 registered bidders from local areas and further north into Queensland.
Purchasers of three bulls included David Bassingthwaighte, Waco Cattle Co, Mungallala, Qld, the Perrett family, Wandoan, Qld, Widden Stud Australia, Denman, and Craig and Philippa McGuigan, Glenmorgan, Qld.
An additional four bulls were sold at the conclusion of the sale for $4000 and $5000 each.
The sale was conducted by Davidson Cameron and Co with Paul Dooley as auctioneer.
Read the full report in The Land next week.