Dust didn't dampen bidding wars at the 2019 Deniliquin Store Sheep Sale, it just made them harder to see.
Of the 15,000 head advertised, it was the two-year-old ewes that attracted exceptional prices.
The sale was topped by a pen of 354, June/July 2017-drop Merino ewes from Moolamoon, Moulamein selling for $276 a head to Gary Holmfield of Bunnaloo, Womboota.
Vendor, Nick McKinlay said he wasn't expecting the beat the young ewes.
"I would have held on to these ewes and joined them with our Dorsets but it's looking like we're going to have another dry summer," Mr McKinlay said.
Deniliquin Elders auctioneer, Jason Andrews said he didn't think the top end would have sold like they did.
"Not in our wildest dreams would we have thought they would have made that but that just shows the quality of those sheep in particular," Mr Andrews said.
"Most 2016 and 2017-drop ewes sold from $180 to $260 and that's probably better than recent sales, particularly for the quality.
"Young ewes are comparatively cheap for what the older ewes made, you're only paying $20-$30 more for a good young ewe than what you're paying for the best of the old ewes."
The Moolamoon two-year-olds beat a pen of 188, Jun/Jul 2018-drop Merino ewes from Rochford Park, bought buy Stan Rice of Coleambally for $252 a head.
Mr Rice said he bought the young sheep as replacement ewes to fit in with their mixed farming enterprise.
The pen was followed by 432, 2018-drop, Pooginook blood, Merino ewes offered by Paraway Pastoral Company that also sold for $252.
Mr Andrews said the young ewe quality wasn't as good as it had been at some other centres but they still sold well.
"You've got to remember all the young ewes are classed out, so they're going somewhere to be sold but we got from around $150 to $250, I think it's very good money," Mr Andrews said.
"You were very unlucky not to make $170-$180 for the young ewes."
The older ewes sold well, a pen of 577, 2014-drop Merino ewes from Moolamoon sold for $248 a head to Keith Buckingham, Jerilderie.
Mr Andrews said it was reward for effort of producers that are sticking with their sheep through the drought.
"The mutton job is so strong and they were the active under bidders if they didn't buy the lot," Mr Andrews said.
A pen of 62, May 2018-drop Merino cross Border Leicester ewes offered by Holmwood sold for $180 a head.
Eulalie sold 77 Merino cross Border Leicester ewes with June-August-drop lambs for $153.
The Merino wether lambs topped at $142 with a pen of 315, May/June-drop, Pooginook blood lambs offered by Charlie's Run bought by Peter Selmes, Crookwell.
The Burge family of Deniliquin sold 273, May/June-drop wether lambs under account Prairie Home for $140 a head.
They also sold 2014-drop Merino ewes with Woodpark blood to a top of $210.
Mr Andrews said there wasn't a great deal of weight in the top end of the wether lambs this sale.
"The smaller they get the dearer they get, you couldn't buy anything with any consequence under $90 and if you wanted to buy something with a little bit of weight you had to be $110 plus," Mr Andrews said.
Rankeela sold 50, May/June drop, White Suffolk cross Merino lambs for $165 a head.
Warwillah sold their best pen of 164 May/June drop, White Suffolk cross Merino lambs for $159.
Mr Andrews said buyers were mostly from south of Deniliquin, with some locals and buyers from the Eastern Riverina also represented.
"Most went south and that's in mind with where the feed is, it's simply greener down there," Mr Andrews said.
The sale was conducted by Elders, Landmark and Rodwells selling agents.
- Full report in next week's The Land.