22 SEP 2021

A sale with a difference on the Eyre Peninsula

Prior to 2015, sheep producers on the Eyre Peninsula had a less than ideal route to market.

The trip from Elliston to the Jamestown sale yards is 483km, 5.5 hours by car and longer by truck. Sheep and lambs would lose some of their presentation appeal on the journey. Selling through sale yards is very much a visual process and animals from the Elliston area had to stand next to those from the Jamestown area who hadn’t travelled. The contrast led to lower prices.

A solution was needed

The problem needed a collaborative effort to solve. Instead of bringing the animals to the buyers, why not bring the buyers to the animals and go from farm to farm selling everything on the same day?

That’s exactly what clients and Elders staff members set out to do with the introduction of the circuit sale. It’s not as easy as it sounds – the first year around 7,000 to 8,000 sheep and lambs were sold across eight properties.

Early on, the circuit focused on clientele from Elliston and south of Sheringa but the desire to expand was clear.

“In 2019 the sale expanded to the include five properties from the Streaky Bay district, explained Elders northern SA livestock sales,” manager, Damien Webb.

“While in 2020 the total number of sheep and lambs sold exceeded 20,000 from over 10 properties.”

Many hands make light work

Preparation begins months out from sale day, covering everything from logistics to safety and food and water. Elders staff from multiple locations help clients prepare for the day.

“In the two to three months prior to the sale staff are compiling numbers with vendors,” said Damien.

“Stock are drafted on farm a few days before the sale. Staff members from Elders admin, livestock, merchandise, wool and real estate lend a hand with weighing, drafting and marketing. Some are working right up to the night before getting placards ready for each pen.

“We work with the broader South Australian livestock team to secure buyers. We also advertise via TV and social media. There are extra clients added every year which shows the level of support from the local community.”

Results on the day

This year a total of 15,877 sheep sold across nine properties in Elders seventh annual circuit sale held on 1 September.

Demand was strong across the board, but it was a draft of 480 woolly crossbred lambs at an average of 40 kg from LM & RJ Kenny and sons of Colton that topped the day for lambs at $187 per head.

The spread of prices for the top drafts of crossbred lambs ranged from $160-187/hd with a weight range of 34.5 to 40.6 kg.

A draft of 425 woolly Merino wether lambs at an average of 37 kg from Zaroma, Port Kenny topped the day for Merino lambs at $172 per head.

The spread of prices from the top draft of Merino lambs ranged from $128 to 172 per head with a weight range of 21 to 38 kg.

In adult sheep, a draft of 135 2020 drop ewes with weights of between 45 to 55kg achieved $261 per head, these ewes were sold by NM & DS May of Elliston.

“Most lambs were 3 to 5 kg lighter than last year due to a late season break and cold, wet conditions but the lambs were well presented, a testament to all involved,” Damien said.

“Repeat buyers from the Eyre Peninsula and Mid North had no reservations, competing for proven sheep and lambs.”

Here to stay

The success of the circuit sale can’t be questioned, from 7,000 sheep and lambs in the early days to as many as 20,000 in recent years, the idea of bringing buyers to animals has stuck but it’s become more than just a sale, says Damien.

“We have loyal clients from the very first sale which see this day as not only sale day but a day they are very proud to showcase their livestock and promote the Eyre Peninsula.”

Damien hopes the sale will keep growing as new sellers opt to support the event and favorable seasonal conditions prevail for existing clients.

Elders Eyre Peninsula Circuit Sale

Watch Elders' staff and clients talk about the success of the day.