As the hot Central Otago heat seared down, Johnny Duncan looked as cool as a cucumber as 282 rams were auctioned at the annual Craigneuk ram fair in Gimmerburn.

Duncan said it was always pleasing to see a big turnout at the sale.

"Both young kids and, of course, our buyers. It's cool to see people make an occasion of the sale. I enjoy seeing kids coming along and they find themselves lending a hand out the back. The kids just love to help, and it's setting them up for farming which is just around the corner for most of them".

Johnny Duncan, of Craigneuk Station, listens as John McCone (left), John Duffy and Callum MacDonald auction off his rams. Photo / Alice Scott
Johnny Duncan, of Craigneuk Station, listens as John McCone (left), John Duffy and Callum MacDonald auction off his rams. Photo / Alice Scott

He said a "huge effort" was put in by his staff behind the sale gallery.

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"They did a stellar job keeping the rams up to us. It's very important to keep the flow of the sale going and the crowd happy".

Matt Black, Gareth Finlayson and Elena Hammington, of nearby Linnburn Station, make their way around the rams on offer. Photo / Alice Scott
Matt Black, Gareth Finlayson and Elena Hammington, of nearby Linnburn Station, make their way around the rams on offer. Photo / Alice Scott

This year was the 18th ram fair for him and his wife Geraldine.

The average price paid for the 282 rams yarded was $1427 and the top price was $4800 for a Dorset Down ram, sold to Scott Milne of Omakau.

Rams sold as far north as Hawke's Bay and throughout the South Island, with very strong buying from repeat buyers and also some new purchasers, he said.

Emma Bell, left, of Morrisons, and Allana Scott, of Kyeburn, find some shade on a hot day in the Gimmerburn. Photo / Alice Scott
Emma Bell, left, of Morrisons, and Allana Scott, of Kyeburn, find some shade on a hot day in the Gimmerburn. Photo / Alice Scott

He said he liked the Dorset Down breed for its consistency and versatility.

"You can put them over any breed of ewe and get a consistent line of fast-growing terminal lambs. You don't tend to get the tail-enders".

He conceded he had not really had time to take a breath since the ram fair: "We're flat out weaning. The ewes are headed for the hill for the rest of the summer, and weaned lambs on to the lucerne".

Craigneuk Station worker Tom Paton keeps the rams up to the sale gallery. Photo / Alice Scott
Craigneuk Station worker Tom Paton keeps the rams up to the sale gallery. Photo / Alice Scott

The recent heat had been a welcome relief; "the lambs are pumping along at the moment. It's pleasing to see" he said.

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