Buyers were fussy at the Black and Coloured Sheep Breeders' Association of New Zealand's national sale at the Waimate showgrounds on Saturday.
Many of the 30 animals on offer were passed on, to the dismay of vendors and auctioneers.
Peter Walsh and Associates auctioneer Snow Buckley said one or two more sold after the auction at about reserve prices.
Bidders had decided which sheep they wanted and were prepared to pay good prices for them, he said.
''They picked the eyes out of them.''
The ram judged top sheep in the show, an unregistered two-tooth Corriedale ram from Rakaia breeder Jim Stewart, was bought by Waimate farmer Stuart Albrey for $420.
That was the second-to-top price on the day.
The highest price of $610 was paid by Anita Erskine, of Tuatapere, for another unregistered two-tooth Corriedale ram, sold by Leo and Karen Ponsonby, of Rolleston.