Sheep producers' faith in quality-woolled sheep with the ability to cut big fleece weights was evident at the Merrignee Merino and Poll Merino 33rd Annual Unhoused Ram Sale on Friday, at Boorowa.
A highlight for many was also that former Australian Wool Innovation sheep industry specialist, Stuart Hodgson, was now an adviser for the operation.
He had worked with Koonwarra when it was in partnership between Charlie Merriman and former stud owners, the Curran family, at Canowindra, prior to his AWI role.
CT Merriman and Son was in partnership with the Curran family from 2006 to 2013, when Koonwarra stud moved to the Merriman's property, "Little Range", at Boorowa.
Then CT Merriman and Son took over full ownership of Koonwarra and this was the 10th sale since.
All up, 83 rams were sold from 90 offered to a $7500 top and $2247 average.
The top-priced ram was the horned two-year-old, March-shorn Merrignee 21016, by 19-107 Big Super, which had also been part of the stud's show team.
He was knocked down to Tasmanian stud, Echo Cottage, at Lemont, which was registered in 2007 by owners Allan and Jenny Johnson, and is managed by their son, Troy.
Their stud flock was founded on a base of 123 ewes from the Merryville daughter flock, Buangor Park, Buangor near Ararat,Vic, which they bought out in 2006, bringing that stud to a close.
The Echo Cottage foundation sire was a Merryville-blood ram from the also now resigned Leintwardine stud, Gretna, near Bothwell, Tas.
Their sale-topper had 16.7-micron wool, with 2.0-micron standard deviation, 12.1 per cent coefficient of variation and 99.7pc comfort factor and will be used on stud ewes.
His stud classer, Dennis "Matey" Crawford, Hamilton, Vic, picked him out and Mr Johnson hadn't seen him before sale day, when he flew via Canberra on his way to Boorowa with his Elders agent, Damien Whitely, to attend and bid.
"He was just a nice, good plain-bodied ram," he said.
Matt Merriman, "Ravensworth", Yass, was among the volume buyers, taking 11 rams to a top of $5000 to average $3636.
Merrignee rams have been used at Ravensworth for 25 to 30 years, the family seeking the larger-framed types which would also maintain a heavy cut of fine/superfine wool with a traditional Italian crimp.
Matt said in the past five to six years, they had made "massive inroads" in this direction using Merrignee rams.
The Ravensworth selection this year were all above average for greasy fleece weight and body weight breeding values.
The frame was important because not only did they breed their own replacement ewes for the Ravensworth flock, but the classed-out ewe hoggets and any ewes that missed a lamb, as well as any ewes classed as their "B" ewes, were joined to Border Leicester rams on their other properties, "Humewood" and "Marchmont.
The resulting first-cross ewes, also run on these properties, were joined to Poll Dorset rams.
Therefore, among their 5000-odd Merino ewe flock, 3300 went back to Merino rams on Ravensworth and the remainder to the Humewood/Marchmont Border Leicester joining group.
Austin Grace, Murringo, was also active, buying a line of 15 rams for Gunnong Pastoral Company, Jugiong, which also owns "Fairview", Adjungbilly.
The draft topped at $3000 to average $1833 and Mr Grace, who has taken on Gunnong's classing role after the death of widely revered classer, Paul Kelly, said he was seeking rams that would handle high rainfall conditions.
This included bright, white wool with good style, crimp, at 17-micron fibre diameter, "and plenty of it", and also sound structure.
He said these rams would be used on "Fairview" and the operation had used Merrignee rams for at least 20 years.
Pat Hallam, "The Red Hills", Gundaroo, bought four rams to a top of $2500 to average $1500, for his 3000-ewe flock.
Mr Hallam, who had bought from Merrignee for 35 years (including two years privately before the stud began its on-property auctions) was aiming to maintain a 16- to 17-micron clip.
Merrignee principal, Jono Merriman, who runs the stud with wife Annalise, and his parents Pip and Charlie, was pleased with how the rams presented, including the size and amount of wool they had grown, being only 12 to 13 months old and raised and prepared in the paddock.
Elders Boorowa handled the sale and Aaron Seaman, Elders, was auctioneer.
NOTE: In an earlier version of this report it said Mr Hodgson had come back on board as a classer. This was incorrect as he is actually in an advisory role. Charlie is the Classer of Merrignee Merino and Poll Merino stud and Jono is the Classer of Koonwarra Merino and Poll Merino stud.