A full clearance was achieved at the Richmond Merinos sale on Tuesday at Quandialla, with high wool qualities cited as the main attraction as buyers paid to a top of $16,000.
The sale, which was held back on property after a few wet years, equalled the record top price of last year's sale for an overall average of $3208 across the 120 rams sold.
Topping the sale was Richmond 117, purchased by Benefield Poll Merinos, Murray Bridge, SA, in partnership with Coleburra Poll Merinos, Tintinara, SA.
The polled ram had a fibre diameter of 17.3 micron, with a yearling staple length (YSL) of 22.7 millimetres, ranking him in the top 10 per cent of the breed and a comfort factor (CF) of 100 per cent.
He also recorded a yearling weaning weight (YWT) Australian sheep breeding value (ASBV) in the top 10pc of the breed at +13.1, along with a yearling clean fleece weight (YCFW) of +24.9 and a dual purpose index (DP+) of +179.
Chad Burbidge, Benefield Poll Merinos, Murray Bridge, who bred the ram's sire BF-55, said his stud operation aimed for similar breeding objectives as the Ryan family at Richmond Merinos, with bolder crimps, fast early growth, respectable fleece weights, and skin and structure being important to the operations.
"It was the purity of the wool, beautiful staple lengths, nice and white wool with good structure," Mr Burbidge said.
"The other stud involved wanted him, so we decided to share him."
One of the equal second top-priced rams for the sale was Richmond 339, purchased by Pepper Well Poll Merinos, Keyneton, SA, for $14,000.
Also sired by BF-55, the polled ram had a fibre diameter of 17.2 micron, with a YCFW of +25.7 and a yearling eye-muscle depth (YEMD) of +1.73, along with a YSL of 20.5mm.
He also displayed a YCFW of 25.7pc, placing him in the top 10pc of the breed.
The second equal top-priced ram, Richmond 128, was purchased for $14,000 by a partnership of Benefield Poll Merinos, Murray Bridge, SA and Gunallo Pty Ltd, Pinnaroo, SA.
Another polled ram, he displayed a very high DP+ of +200, with a YSL of 20mm and a YEMD value of +2.47, putting him in the top 10 pc of the breed.
The twin-born ram had an 18.1 micron fibre diameter and was in the top 10pc for YWT with +11.8 and a comfort factor of 99.8pc.
One purchaser within the buying partnership, Chad Burbidge, Benefield Poll Merinos, said the ram was a complete outcross for the operations.
"He's a good data animal, structurally correct with some fairly handy wool to go with it," Mr Burbidge said.
One of the volume buyers was Green Grove Pastoral Company, Grenfell, who purchased 10 rams to a top of $5000 and an average of $3650.
Green Grove Pastoral Company manager Scott Dunn said the operation needed to focus on wool density and length when selecting rams for their 2700 soft rolling skin Merino ewe flock, with the main focus being wool quality and quantity.
"We've classed up 700 red tag ewes up and all these rams will be joined to those," Mr Dunn said.
"We class all the ewes up in wools and frames and buy the rams according to how we've classed the ewes for a bit of corrective mating."
Other volume buyers included Geeron Partnership, Warroo, near Forbes, who purchased 16 rams for a top of $3500 to average $2375, and MQ Hunter, Bribbaree, who bought 12 rams to an average of $2208.
Support for the program was clear from other Merino studs with Rocky Point Merinos, Byawatha, Vic, buying Richmond 159 for $8000 and Glenwarra Merinos, Nyngan, who bought Richmond 161 for $2500.
Trevor Ryan, Richmond Merino stud principal, said he was thrilled with the result and the support from studs, with rams destined for three states.
The rams were paddock raised with minimal supplementary feeding, he said.
"We paddock run our sheep, put them under a bit of pressure, get them out in the weather, in the rain, in the sunlight, out in the barley grass," Mr Ryan said.
He said the stud had taken a slow and steady approach and carefully built figures and traits over the last few years, which was now paying off.
The sale was conducted by Elders Young with Paul Dooley, Tamworth, as the auctioneer.
AuctionsPlus provided the online interface.
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