It was a sight rarely seen today, auctioneers, pens of sheep and plenty of keen bidders.
But when stud breeder Stuart Sinclair put more than 350 of his breeding ewes up for sale, the crowds came and they clearly had money to spend, bidding was brisk as one by one the top class suffolk, south suffolk and cheviot ewes were sold.
For Sinclair it was a bitter-sweet day.
Yes, it wrapped up a 50-year stud stock legacy, but with money invested in irrigation and better money to be made outside the sheep industry, he’s happy his sons are walking down the cropping path.
He admits he’s always been a stockman.
He was given a couple of south suffolk ewes when he left school, they were followed by a few suffolks and then cheviots were added to the mix.
Unusual in the stud sheep business, Sinclair stuck with the three breeds, carving out a huge reputation as both a provider of outstanding stud stock for sale and as a show ring exhibitor.
He had his fingers crossed for a good sale but any stock left at the end of the day would be returning home to his Wakanui farm.
“I’ll watch this with interest and I’m hoping some younger people will be among the buyers and they’ll start up their own stud,” he said.
Sinclair decided prior to Christmas that the stud had to go and that kick-started a pretty involved process to reach sale day.
It took a convoy of three trucks and an early start to move the studs from Wakanui to the showgrounds and each ewe arrived sporting a bright orange number tied to its fleece.
They were put up for sale individually.
From the first lot the indications were that the quality of stock on offer was going to attract competition.
Bids flowed but with a huge yarding to get through, auctioneer Andrew Holt made it clear he wouldn’t be indulging tardy bidders.
With the sale over, Sinclair made it clear he wasn’t washing his hands of his stock.
He was keen to meet up with buyers, many of whom he already knew.
You can’t be a 50-year breeder and just walk away, he said.
“Yes I suppose it’s a bit emotional, but when you make up your mind you just get on with it really.”
He’s kept a few young rams to show just to keep his eye in for the times he’ll be in the ring as judge, rather than exhibitor.
The auction generated huge interest, with 60 registered bidders, some of those buying through agents.
Buyers came from around New Zealand.
Carrfields stud stock agent Callum Dunnett described yesterday’s sale as “unique”.
The last stud dispersal he could recall was at least two years ago, he said.
“This is Stuart’s life work, the stock are outstanding, it’s a great chance for young people to come into breeding.”
– By Sue Newman