A South Canterbury Angus bull sold for $98,000 leads the nation so far this season in terms of prices.
Stern Angus stud co-owner James Fraser was in the yards preparing rising 2-year-old bulls for the auction ring at the time and oblivious to the bidding duel going on for lot 4.
By the time he poked his head up, it was all over and Keith Higgins from Oregon Angus in Wairarapa was left with the final bid for Stern 21521 at the on-farm sale at Totara Valley on Thursday.
Fraser said they were too busy making sure the sale was running smoothly to concentrate on the auction results.
“I’m out the back working and so I wasn’t really listening to it. I think there were multiple bidders for the bull until about $50,000 and then it was a duel between Keith Higgins and the underbidder to completion.
“We were confident that particular bull would attract some attention, but didn’t realise that he would make that sort of money.”
Higgins visited the stud operation to inspect lot 4 before putting in his bids remotely.
“He was a beautifully put-together bull, very deep bodied and wide topped, with a great hindquarter on him and sound as a bell and good bone, so he ticked all the boxes really,” Fraser said.
“His dataset was strong and he wasn’t pushing out extreme at all. He was a robust animal that had a lot of commercial appeal and that’s the underlying target of all stud breeders to have practical commercial cattle.”
A crowd of 250 onlookers, some from as far afield as the King Country, caught the action.
The final bid surpassed the Fraser family’s previous best result of $64,000 a few years ago. Some distance still remains between it and the record Angus price of $155,000 set in the early 1990s for Atahua Legacy.
Fraser, his wife Fiona and son Robert run the stud with manager Donald Hay. They sold 90 bulls in a 99-strong catalogue for an average price of just under $11,300 and a gross overall result topping $1 million.
The Stern stud was founded in 1937 in Southland by Fraser’s grandfather, Robert, and moved to Sterndale in 1942 under his father, Robin, with the latest Frasers taking over in 1992.
Fraser said the stud team thought the lineup might attract attention and was delighted with the overall sale result.
Lot 37 also made an impressive $85,000, bought by Dean and Teresa Sherson from Black Ridge Angus Stud in Taumarunui.
Fraser said the bull had been a “phenomenal” heifer mating bull they had used heavily in the stud.
They prided themselves on the evenness of their lineup through the catalogue, he said.
“There were five stud bulls sold and 85 commercial bulls sold including 33 bulls sold for between $4500 and $8000 which provides commercial buyers a full range of opportunity in the catalogue.”
He was particularly pleased with the highest-priced commercial bull going for $23,000 to Matt McKenzie at Kelso in West Otago.
The Fraser family plan to reinvest sales revenue into the stud via new genetics, artificial insemination and embryo transfer programmes.