CASHFLOW and flock expansion have been the catalyst for sensational clearance rates at Merino ram sales across the country, as agents report a notable shift toward wool production.
Despite several studs’ swelling catalogues in a bid soften ram price averages, clearance rates for Merinos have nudged 100 per cent at major stud sales across the country.
“I’ve never seen the ram sales season so good,” Elders stud stock manager Scott Thrift, Dubbo, NSW, said.
“High dollars aren’t necessarily there but a lot more rams have been sold. Cashflow from the wool, mutton and restocker markets means there is money to spend on genetics.”
Mr Thrift said demand had outstripped an estimated 10 to 20pc increase in rams offered.
Queensland and northern NSW graziers have been absent from competition due to dry conditions causing doubt over joining capabilities.
“If all this recent rain hit Queensland two months ago, this season would have been a whole new ballgame.”
Conditions remain dry in Western Australia, Queensland, northern NSW and South Australia. Elders senior livestock advisor Rob Inglis, Wagga Wagga, NSW, estimated one million ewes would not be joined in the far west of NSW, or 50pc of the region’s ewe flock.
“There is no feed and very little water but despite this, ram sales are still very strong,” Mr Inglis said.
“Producers who formerly joined to composites are swinging back to Merinos.”
On Monday, Charinga Poll Merino and Merino, Banavie, Victoria, on property sale peaked at $42,000, with all 179 offered sold.
The result was hot on the heels of Boonoke, Conargo which sold a poll Merino ram to $46,000, paid by Nigel and Brett Kerin, Kerin Poll Merinos, Yeoval, NSW.
Eilan Donan, Sutton Grange, Vic, topped the 2017 Rabobank National Merino Ram Sale at $52,500, while Moorundie, Keith, SA, capped the SA Stud Merino and Poll Merino sale at Adelaide last month at $52,000.
Dubbo National Ram Sale Association chairman Matthew Coddington, co-principal of Roseville Park Merino, estimated demand for rams had doubled this season.
“There is not necessarily more people getting into sheep but those in are expanding numbers,” Mr Coddington said.
“Clients that usually order 10-12 rams are after 20-25 this year.
“We are seeing a move from croppers who are spreading their risk by diversifying into sheep – a big swing-back from first-cross breeders to Merinos as well.”
He said good growth and heavy wool cuts were lucrative traits this selling season.
“They’re not after fine wool, they chasing 18.5 and 20.5 micron,” he said.