Corker of a day at saleyard
Justin and Kylie Corker are still pinching themselves after rewriting Katanning Regional Saleyards’ record books.
The husband-and-wife team fetched an all-time lamb high at the Katanning centre on Wednesday last week, securing $260 a head for their pen of 38 White Suffolk-Merino crossbred lambs.
The Corkers, who farm at Kulikup near Boyup Brook, made the 90km trip to Katanning feeling bullish about their offering, with Mr Corker aiming to break his goal of exceeding $200 a head.
However, Mr Corker admitted he was still in shock after topping his previous best of $180 a head, which he achieved a week earlier, and reaching the $260 mark.
“It was a pretty big surprise,” he said.
“We jumped from $180 to $260 in the space of a week — it still hasn’t really sunk in.
“When Kylie and I first got married 28 years ago, our lambs would get about $22 a head and we thought that was great.”
Despite the pre-sale confidence, Mrs Corker was anxious ahead of last week’s auction.
Primaries WA livestock selling agent Geoff Daw facilitated the sale of the pen, with lambs born across July and August last year and weighing about 26kg each.
Mrs Corker was upbeat the lambs would attract a solid price, but opted not to watch the auction and instead stay in the ute.
“I was too nervous,” she said.
“We knew we would get a pretty reasonable price.
“When Justin called me afterwards to say what we got, I couldn’t really believe it.”
The record sale generated a buzz across the Great Southern and prompted the Corkers’ neighbours to place a sign along Kulikup Road describing the duo as “bloody legends”.
It came amid increasing lamb demand, with interstate buyers flocking to WA in search of sheepmeat and driving prices up.
Mutton also reached $244 a head at last week’s Katanning sale, as processors increased spending to claim a share of reducing supplies.
Katanning saleyards manager Rod Bushell said the centre’s high lamb prices had proved fruitful to many Great Southern producers.
“It was a terrific result,” he said.
“The lamb average was up dramatically overall.
“In the short term, the price will be sustainable with the demand high and the numbers low.”
Katanning’s positive lamb sales follow more than 11,600 sheep and lambs penned at the Muchea Livestock Centre last week on Tuesday, with trade lambs selling up to $202 per head.
The increase brought WA closer to the Eastern States’ strong sales, averaging 820¢/kg cwt on the back of processor JBS Australia’s increased buying activity.
Heavy lambs sold to $243 a head, while prime heavy mutton sold to $210 per head.
Mr and Mrs Corker co-ordinate about 2000 Merino ewes across their 1000ha landholding, with about 300 crossbred lambs approaching auction at the saleyards.
Mr Corker said while he was doubtful the high prices were sustainable, he hoped the market would remain strong.
“If it can sit around the $180 to $210 mark, everyone would be pretty happy,” he said.
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