Woonallee Sale report

15 February 2012

 Huge celebration sale at Woonallee 

Report and Photos by Ian Turner - Superior Selections.

On the back of celebrating their 40th year of involvement with the Simmental breed, the Baker family, Woonallee Simmentals, Furner staged one of the most remarkable beef cattle sales ever seen in this state last Thursday.

It is 40 years since Dale and Dean Baker and families established their Simmental studs and jointly calved down the first Simmental calf born in this country. Woonallee, under the guidance of Tom and Lizzy Baker and their extended family, plus their loyal and efficient staff continue to set new benchmarks, not just within the Simmental breed, but also from a wider beef industry perspective.

They held their first annual auction in 2005, initially in conjunction with Waterfront for the first three years, then on their own since 2008 and every one since has been very successful. This year’s 5th Annual Woonallee Elite Production sale has been the best of them all.

Thirty eight Simmental bulls, seven composite bulls, nine PTIC heifers, twenty one unmated weaner heifers and eight semen packages of the highest quality were catalogued and the response was exceptional. Prospective buyers from all Australian states and New Zealand were in attendance and registrations greatly exceeded any previous year. A crowd of around 400 gathered and despite plenty of seating, for many it was standing room only.

Auctioneers Ben Finch and Ross Milne simply had to referee the rapid bids and by the sale’s end there was a 100% clearance and a sale gross exceeding half a million dollars.

The top priced bull rocketed to $29,000, which was just $1000 below the Woonallee and equal national auction record for a Simmental bull in this country. Heifers sold to $12,000, again just $1000 below last year’s Woonallee record for an unmated weaner heifer.

Every detail was covered and many stud breeders could do worse than attend this sale to see ‘ultimate professionalism’ on display. Long-time cattle producer and south east identity Jim Childs summed up this sale nicely by saying, “It was a privilege just to be here and witness such a wonderful event.”

In the eight auctions Woonallee has staged, the top price has exceeded $20,000 on seven occasions and they have sold nine bulls from $20,000 to $30,000 in that time. With such strong potential competition in the gallery this year, along with the quality on offer, expectations for an exceptionally good top end to this sale were high and they came to fruition.

Woonallee Flamboyant F009, a 22 month old polled son of Woonallee Tornado C120 entered the ring to start the sale on the highest note. Rated by Tom Baker as the best bull ever offered by Woonallee, this free moving 1050kg bull looked every bit a potential champion sire, with balance, smoothness up front combined with great muscling, verified by an EMA measurement of 144 square cm.

It was Audrey Weightman, Topweight Simmentals, Margaret River, WA who came out as the strongest of the many bidders with the winning $29,000 bid. She said that while she was near her limit, the bull was a complete commercial package. Audrey also paid the Woonallee record of $30,000 in 2008 and it was on the back of experiencing the benefits from that investment that fuelled her unwavering commitment to secure such a high quality bull to follow on with the Topweight herd improvement.

Woonallee Favourite F108 (P), sired by Corinda Downs Deliver followed. This impressive bull was the Junior and Grand Champion at the 2011 Adelaide Royal and also in the inter-breed junior champion pair. He displayed extreme docility and while he may have been too red for some purists, that was certainly not the case for Damian Hingston and Haylee Bennett, Damelee Simmentals, Gawler, Tasmania. Through their Roberts Ltd agent Tim Woodham, they placed the winning $11,000 bid,

Underbidders on the lot one bull, Cam and Carol Emerson, Alva Downs, Coleraine, Vic then went to $17,000 to secure Woonallee Filter F025, another polled son of Woonallee Tornado that sired three of the top four bulls. Highly rated pre-sale, he lived up to expectation. Cam Emerson also paid the $21,500 top in 2006 so is no stranger to the predictability and breeding strength of Woonallee genetics.

Regan Burrow, Yerwal, Lucindale kept the interstate buyers at bay on lot 4, Woonallee Fetish F018, by placing a winning $13,000 bid. He later added a second Tornado son, Woonallee Feast F010 for $6500 to secure an impressive genetic boost for the Yerwal herd.

While the top lots are always a feature, the strength of competition was matched by the depth of quality. Nine bulls sold for $10,000 or better before settling into the good value price levels that allowed any serious commercial beef producer to compete.

Sim Flanders, Elders Casterton and operating for the Koch family Rosebank Pastoral, Casterton placed the winning $11,000 bid for Woonallee Federation at lot 5, an impressive addition to their commercial herd.

Top commercial producers appreciate the value of these high growth and easy doing genetics and openly compete with stud breeders. In fact it is the Baker family’s commitment to the success of their commercial herd that drives their stud breeding operation and genetic decision making, so it is no surprise there is strong commercial demand.

Jim and Patty Doelle, Edenhope are Woonallee regulars and again competed strongly, picking up two top bulls for $9,000 and $8,000.

Bill and Elaine Sleep paid $8000 and a great value $5000 for two bulls for their Woolsthorpe based herd. In one of the bargain buys of the day, Les McBain, Pakenham bid $10,000 to get Woonallee Focus, an August drop son of Woonallee Boulder B116 and out of one of Woonallee’s very best cows.

Howard Hann, buying through Landmark Esperence made another huge statement for commercial WA breeders when he bid over $10,000 for two outstanding bulls for his herd. These were for a Tornado son ($11,500) and the first ever black Simmental bull offered by Woonallee ($12,000). This bull was the progeny of a successful ET program and displayed exceptional muscling and softness.

Although no longer stud breeders, Mark, Julie and Rebecca Peucker, Mt Gambier, SA still appreciate quality for their commercial herd. They paid $7,000 to get the full ET brother to the black bull bought by Howard Hann, and then paid $9,000 for a son of Corinda Downs Deliver, the sire they bred and was purchased by Woonallee at the Corinda Downs stud dispersal.

James McKay, Egremont Pastoral, Lucindale is no stranger to buying top end Woonallee genetics, having paid to $16,000 in the past for his highly productive commercial herd. This year, despite the top end strength of the sale, he was able to secure two bulls of choice for $9,000 and $7,000 in very astute buying.

NSW commercial bidders also got into the action with long-time supporters John and Jenifer Turner, ‘Mahonga Park’, Rand picking up two for $5,500 and $5,000.

Peter Morley, Molong also picked up two top bulls at $8,000 and $6,000, adding to the 102 commercial heifers he bought in the morning at record breaking Woonallee Simmental Feeders & Breeder heifer sale on Auctions Plus. Rounding out the NSW bull buying were Allen Anderson, Crookwell who bid $7,000 to pick up Woonallee Fiesta F058 for his ‘Maj’ stud herd, while Simpson & Simpson, Wagga Wagga paid $8000 for a polled son of Corinda Downs Deliver.

Other prominent interstate bull buyers included two Queensland accounts. Long time Woonallee supporter Peter Rauchle, Springside Simmentals, Pittsworth placed a successful $9000 bid for Woonallee Forefront F013, a polled son of BHR Draco. Linked into the sale via the Auctions Plus network, the Pitkin family, Wondoan bid $12,500 to purchase Woonallee Fairway F011, one of the highest performers in the drop and another son of Tornado.

The 38 Simmental bulls were followed by 7 composite bulls that attracted a lot of pre-sale interest and positive comment from commercial breeders. The Simmental draft averaged a wonderful $8145, while the composites sold to $8000 and averaged $6071. In all, the 45 bulls averaged $7822.

With the headline sales, it would be easy to presume that many local commercial breeders were largely unsuccessful in their bull buying endeavours. However this was certainly not the case as 14 commercial breeders, mainly from the Furner and Millicent areas were successful in purchasing 16 bulls, from a fantastic value $3000 (3 times) up to a still affordable $8000. These accounted for 36% of the bull offering and averaged a great value $5250. One of these buyers, Steve Harris, Iluka Estate and buying through Elders Millicent was the volume bull buyer, picking up three composites at $8000, $7000 and $5500.

A wonderful draft of 30 heifer lots followed the bull draft and these also met very strong buying competition. To celebrate the 40 year milestone the Baker family offered a unique package of the pick from their entire drop of 2011 heifers.

Justin and Stacee Staley, Juraley Simmentals, Yarram, Victoria paid the $21,000 top bull price last year after several years of heifer purchases from Woonallee and were not going to let this wonderful opportunity pass. They placed the winning $12,000 bid. As this was below what they expected to have to pay, they then invested in two more young heifers. These were arguably the pick of the draft on offer, Woonallee Swazi G40, a Tornado daughter, paying $8500 and then added an outcross heifer for $3500.

John Leek, Mt Ararat stud, Nar Nar Goon, Vic was determined to get one of the best heifers to enhance his breeding program. He went to $11,500 before winning the bidding for Woonallee Tara G27, an impressive poll by Gibby’s Real Deal. He later added a semen package of five straws in Woonallee Tornado (P) at $220/straw and plans to combine these two in an ET program to give a significant genetic boost to his Mt Ararat stud.

Other Victorian stud breeders who got into the buying action on the heifers were Peter and Vanessa Wenn, ‘Pinnaroo Hills’, Bunyip (one @ $5000), Jason Carpinteri ,‘Red Fox’, Thorpdale (one @ $4000 plus a semen package of ten straws @ $100/straw in Corinda Downs Deliver), Jack Hickey, Camperdown (one @ $4000), Gary & Kaye Gillett, ‘Lara-Leigh’ stud, Lara Lake (one @ $3000) and Matt Baxter, Hill Top stud, The Sisters (two at $2750 and $2500). Geoff & Laura Cockerell, ‘Gelora Park stud, Portarlington paid $100/straw for ten straws of semen from last year’s $21,000 sale topper, Woonallee Essendon.

The volume buying in the heifers went further north. Lloyd & Lewis Fairbairn, Kingaroy, Qld and buying via phone hook-up through Elders Toowoomba, purchased five of the young heifers from $4,500 to $7,000 in committed bidding to be the biggest volume buyer.

Doug Houston, Wombat stud, Forbes, NSW purchased four from $30,00 to $6,000 through his agent Ben Mitchell, while Ben added two at $2,500 each on his own account.

Stuart Moeck, through Elders Goulburn was back again and after missing out on a few of the higher priced lots was successful in securing a polled Tornado daughter for $3,500.

Tasmanian buyers also got into the action on the heifers. Nathan & Leah Skirving, ‘Rosehill’ stud, East Sassafras were underbidders on the Woonallee record $13,000 heifer last year. They were more successful this year, picking up a bigger and more powerful Barana Elderado daughter for $7,500. The Goss family, Sheffield went to $6,500 for a polled Tornado daughter. Her full sister sold for $5,750 last year, demonstrating the consistent quality in this breeding line.

Again it was international breeders in the Sanson family, Gold Creek Simmentals, Tekaraka, via Gisborne, New Zealand who made a significant buying impact in the heifer and semen section. Last year they purchased the $13000 record priced heifer from the Webb family’s High Five daughter stud. The heifer stayed at Woonallee to be flushed with the embryos being imported into their herd.

This year they jumped in and purchased the first of the nine mated heifers, a replacement from the Woonallee keepers replacing a late withdrawal. Woonallee Polly Waffle F133, a beautifully balanced and high performance heifer by Boulder was in calf to Piper Cougar (P). After calving down she too will be flushed with embryos being imported into New Zealand. Tom Sanson then went to $250/straw for five straws of Woonallee Tornado to top the semen sales.

Scott and Emily Davidson, Morton stud, Marcollat successfully bid $150/straw for ten straws in Woonallee Dimension, the $20,000 sale topper from the 2010 sale. Phil Webb, High Five daughter stud bid $100/straw for ten straw packages in Woonallee Essendon and Corinda Downs Deliver, while Ashley Ness, Seddon stud, Parndana bought the other ten straw package in Dimension for $100/straw. Ashley also paid $5,000 for a daughter of Corinda Downs Deliver, PTIC to Piper Cougar.

It was Craig Wooding, Magpie Park, Coonawarra who went highest of the South Australian female buyers with a $7,000 winning bid on a Boulder heifer, also PTIC to Piper Cougar. This was also the top price for the 9 mated heifers.

Tony Head, Cummins made a successful trip to Woonallee to pick up a PTIC heifer for $4000 and a weaner heifer for $2,500, while Lewis Bruggeman, Mallala paid $4,500 for an unmateted Corinda Downs Deliver daughter.

Sale summary

Bulls                       Simmental                              Composite                                Overall

Offered                                  38                                                 7                                          45

Sold                                       38                                                 7                                          45

Top                              $29,000                                       $8,000                                $29,000

Average                         $8,145                                       $6,071                                  $7,822

Females                      Mated                             Unmated weaners                     Overall

Offered                                   9                                                           21                              30

Sold                                        9                                                           21                              30

Top                               $7,000                                                 $12,000                    $12,000

Average                       $5,167                                                   $5,107                        $5,125


Offered & sold 8 packages totalling 70 straws to a top of $250/straw and averaging $126.43/straw.

Sale gross: $514,600

Agents: Elders

Auctioneers: Ben Finch & Ross Milne


Below: Lot 1 Woonallee Flamboyant (P) sold for $29,000 to David, Audrey and Sam Weightman, Topweight Simmentals, WA. (Photo from L to R Tom & Lizzy Baker, Ben Finch, Sam and Audrey Weightman)

Below: Lot 3 Woonallee Filter (P) sold for $17,000 to Cam and Carol Emerson, Alva Downs, Victoria. (Photo from L to R: Ben Finch, Cam & Carol Emerson and Tom & Lizzy Baker)

Below: Lot 60 Woonallee Tara sold for $11,500 to  John Leek, Mt Ararat Simmentals, Victoria. (Photo: Ben Finch, John Leek and Tom & Lizzy Baker)

Below: Lot 47 "The pick of the 2011 drop heifer calves" sold for $12,000 to the Staley family, Juraley Simmentals, Vic

Below: Lot 4 Woonallee Fetish purchased by Regan and Karen Burows, Yerwal Estate Simmentals for $13,000.

Below: Lot 12 Woonallee Fearless (P) purchased by the Hann Family, Esperance, WA for $12,000

Below: Lot 2 Woonallee Favourite (P) purchased for $11,000 to Damian Hingston and Haylee Bennett, Damlee Simmentals, Tasmania.