For Ric, Gail, Matt and Rachel Ridgway and families, their annual Poll Merino ram sale at Kulkami near Lameroo this year is one they will fondly remember.
A big crowd, including 49 registered bidders from three states, gathered to witness a total clearance of 140 superb quality rams in the main auction clear to a Ridgway record on-property sale top of $12,600 and average $2448.
This was up $374 on last year's seasonally affected average and a whopping $7800 up on top price.
Kangaroo Island buyers, Mitch and Ros Willson, Willson River Trading (six rams average $2333) and Jeff and Adam Buick (four rams average $3550) made a significant buying impact.
In the mini auction that followed the main sale, 32 of 42 sold to $1100 five times and averaged a great value $866, bringing the total clearance on the day to 172 rams at a $2153 average.
While the sale was buoyant there was still plenty of value around, with 22 per cent of the overall sale selling for just $1000 or less.
There was depth of quality right through the draft with bodyweights up to 121kg and averaging 102kg. The bright, nourished, long stapled and well-defined wools were a feature, with 38% of the rams being +20 or better for YCFW (yearling clean fleece weight) on Merino Select.
Robert Stein, general manager for Tubbo Station in the Riverina and owned by Giles Pritchard-Gordon, Darlington Point, who was pushed to the $12,600 sale top of $12,600 for R787, by White River 546 taking the bidding well beyond levels not seen at this sale previously. Duane Simon, McPiggery, Lameroo was a very determined underbidder.
Its wool measurements of 20.4 micron, 2.5 SD, 12.1 CV and 99.7 CF were backed up be very impressive Merino Select figures including 20.7 for YCFW, 7.4 for YSL, 7.1 for YWT culminating in a MP+ index of 150.5.
"This ram has got everything that's required; correctness, he's deep sided, well-muscled, has a great surface, good skin, plus a silky white, long stapled, well defined and nourished wool," Robert Stein said.
He also went to $4800 to purchase lots 3 & 9, taking his buying to 3 rams at a $7400 average.
It was a fair way back from the record top to the second top of $5200. This was paid by Steve Kroehn, GD & JI Kroehn, Nildottie through Landmark Murray Bridge for R202, this being one of six he purchased at a $3283 average.
Volume buyers are the key to be able to clear bigger offerings at such a good average. For the second year in a row it was Lynton and Susie Barrett, Lameroo and buying through Spence, Dix & Co, who took the top volume buying honours. They paid to $2600 in purchasing 13 rams at a $1792 average.
Other prominent buyers included Chris and Andrew Johnson, Mt Boothby, Tintinara (9 rams ave $2911); Colara Farms, Tintinara (8 rams ave $2800); Peter and Simon Brady, Rhymney, Vic (8 rams ave $2275); GNB Investments, through Landmark Lameroo (8 rams ave $913).
Naturally the Ridgway family was delighted with the result with plenty of smiles post sale.
"We really appreciated the new faces in attendance, while also welcoming our many repeat clients," Ric Ridgway said.
"We appreciate you don't have to go far north of here, or to the east to find the season is still very tough for some, but it has turned around here this year for which we are grateful.
"We are in a pretty good spot in the sheep industry right now and if producers have been able to keep a majority of their breeding numbers through the drought, we are in for good times," he said.
This point was reinforced by Landmark auctioneer Gordon Wood when he said, "We are indeed in a sweet spot at the moment with the meat and wool markets and it is top genetics like these that will enable producers to take full benefit."