*64 of 73 Merino rams sold to $11,000, av 3515
*Total clearance of five Corriedale rams to $3500, av $3100
A Victorian Merino breeder who has sold more than 800 rams at Sheepvention over a 43-year period has topped the Merino sale, with an online buyer swooping in to secure the top-priced lot.
The ram was purchased for $11,000 and was one of two lots bought online by Glen Echo Pastoral Co, Condoblin.
Nhill-based Glendonald Merino stud sold the 14-month-old ram during the annual auction, which offered 73 rams from 15 studs.
The ram's wool measured 19.3 micron, a standard deviation of 3.4, a coefficient of variation of 7.4, a comfort factor of 99.1 and a spinning fineness of 18.2.
The short wool horned ram, Lot 23, was sired by Glendonald 9.60.
Glendonald Merino stud principal Robert Harding said 2023 marked the 43 years as a vendor of the Merino sale at Hamilton.
"In that time I've offered in excess of 800 rams and in those 43 years, only four have been passed in," he said.
Mr Harding said he was surprised by the result of the sale because his rams sold beyond expectation.
The Glendonald stud offered 21 rams, with only one lot passed in during the auction.
"It was better than what I thought it might have been with the price of wool and sheep and the costs of farming, I wasn't expecting to get that price," he said.
Mr Harding's involvement with the stud started in 1974, but the stud was founded in 1921 by AE McDonald.
"It's over 100 years old now," Mr Harding said.
"I don't look at the wool measurements really, but I have maintained my fleece weight even though I've tried to bring them a bit plainer.
"I still have horned rams, and have bred polled rams since 1982, but the trend today is to be polled, but there clearly still is demand for those horny animals."
Mr Harding said the ram would be used extensively in the stud.
"You want as big as you can get them, as good as wool as you can get, and as much wool as you can get and that's what he offers," he said.
"He wouldn't be the heaviest sheep here, but he has a good balance between his body size and wool cut."
The result was significantly lower than the 2022 sale when a Yarrawonga Poll Merino stud ram from Harden, NSW, made $26,000.
Elders stud stock manager for Victoria and the Riverina Ross Milne said it was not the first time Mr Harding had sold a top-priced ram at the sale.
"We don't see horned rams top the sale as much as we used to, but good sheep sell well in whatever environment they're in," he said.
"Glendonald has topped this sale before, it's not the first time, and it was a very good result for 20 sheep."
Mr Milne said the buying gallery was spread across a handful of states.
"All these guys here have good, loyal client bases who will follow them around either on farm or back to a multi-vendor sale like this and that's important," he said.
"We had a good spread of buyers from New South Wales and Tasmania, and mostly Victoria with a strong group of local buyers who helped us out."
The auction started with the sale of five Corriedale rams consigned by Blackwood Corriedales, Evandale, Tas, with lots 1 and 2 fetching an equal breed top price of $3500.
Blackwood Corriedales stud principal Peter Blackwood said he was delighted with the result, recording a total clearance and an average of $3100.
"It's our highest average on record and rams sold to both commercial and stud clients, so we were really pleased with that," he said.
Meanwhile, the top-priced poll ram was sold by Yarrawonga Poll Merino stud for $9000.
The second top-priced ram of the sale, Lot 7, was one of 19 sold throughout the auction with an average of $3726.
The 13-month-old ram had a micron of 18, SD or 2.7, CV of 14.8, CF of 99.9 and a SF of 16.7.
The ram was bought by first-time Yarrawonga stud clients, Meadow View, from Henty.