IAN TURNER – Guest Columnist
IN extremely testing circumstances with a COVID-19 national shutdown, the easy decision for the Funke family, operator of Bundara Downs studs at Western Flat near Padthaway, would have been to cancel their long-planned fifth biennial on-property, three breed mated ewe sale.
However, Steve, Ros, Greg and Selena Funke were not that easily defeated and in an impressive effort of logistical co-ordination, stepped up their input and promotion of the online sale capabilities, with support from staff of sale agents Elders and Auctions Plus.
The exercise was not without hurdles, creating extra work, stress and some panic to ensure all requirements were covered and met, with the Funke family’s reward being a strong sale result against the odds.
In the final wash-up, 251 of the 261 White Suffolk, Poll Dorset and Suffolk mated ewes sold to a top of $2200 and averaged an extremely healthy $857.
To have achieved a 96pc clearance with less than 10 buyers in the sale complex was beyond any pre-sale expectations.
The Auctions Plus network had a huge effect on the sale success with 105 registered online bidders, involving all six mainland states.
Collectively they placed 676 online bids, being successful in purchasing 188 lots, meaning 75pc of lots sold went via the network and contributed 88pc of the sale gross.
For the Elders stud stock auctioneers, Tony Wetherall and Laryn Gogel, it would have been a unique three-hour experience, offering 261 sheep in single lots, primarily communicating with bidders they could not see or hear.
“With only a very small buying gallery in attendance, we were optimistic that buyers would be operating through Auctions Plus, but until the sale started we were dealing with the unknown,” Mr Wetherall said.
“The result was outstanding, with just eight bidders at the sale, but a huge number online kept it going at a fast pace with us having to have a constant eye on the video screen and just a glance or two at the gallery.
“It was certainly an unusual sale to have 90pc of the action on the screen, but with the COVID-19 restrictions, it is one we may well have to get used to.”
At the completion of the sale, all three breeds produced good results.
The White Suffolk offering was the only draft not to record a complete clearance because of its greater number, making up 61pc of the sale.
However, despite a less than complete clearance, the draft still contributed 62pc of the sale gross.
149 of the 159 White Suffolk lots sold to the overall sale top price of $2200 and averaged $897.
All 70 Poll Dorset lots sold to a $1400 top and averaged $704, with the total clearance being particularly pleasing for the Bundara Downs principals.
Finishing off the sale was a first time offering of Suffolks in this sale, with 32 being offered and meeting strong demand.
In a strong total clearance, they topped at $1800 and averaged $1009, finishing the sale on a high note.
In summing up the result, Tony Wetherall said it was a great day for Bundara Downs, Elders as agents and the industry as a whole in being able to achieve such great success.
“Bundara again presented all three breeds in ideal sale condition for PTIL ewes,” Mr Wetherall said.
“The depth of quality was extremely good, both visually, where they exhibited all the renowned qualities of the breeds and also for performance levels, with the EBVs being second to none.
“It was quite a spectacle to see the entire offering all penned up.
“The length and depth of effort the Funke family went to, to visually display these qualities through videos and photographs for interested clients wishing to compete online through Auctions Plus was exceptional and a great example of their professionalism and dedication, ensuring their product was properly marketed.”
“With COVID-19 restrictions, Bundara Downs went to the next level of online selling support, giving sight unseen bidders confidence to buy, especially with the ‘Full Bundara Guarantee’ which was announced before the sale, further reinforcing that confidence”.
Bundara Downs senior principal Steve Funke thanked people for their support post sale.
“It’s not often you can have such a successful sale with such a small gallery,” he said.
“It was quite stressful, but it proves the technology can come through.
“It is extraordinary times, but in general we were very pleased with how well the ewes came up under the restrictive conditions.”