The sixth annual sale of Elite Exlana rams was a success at Ayshford Buildings near Tiverton on Tuesday (August 4).

Restricted numbers of people attending the sale, free delivery and an online sales platform marked the changes of holding the sale in the current pandemic.

Bill Geen, chairman of Sheep Improved Genetics group (SIG Ltd) said: "Taking the plunge to commit to holding the sale during such uncertain times was a bold decision.

"We implemented three specific measures; restricted numbers attending the sale; introduced free delivery and, engaged the services of, the on-line sales platform, allowing a greater opportunity to buy for customers further away or not able to attend on the day.

"As a result, this year’s sale introduced a completely new spin on previous events and judging by the success on the day, it was a risk worth taking!"

With a total clearance of all 48 high index Elite rams and an average sale price of over £1,500, bidding from both the sale-ring and on-line was fast and keen.

On more than one occasion a rally of bids climbed to ‘final offer’ only to have new bids jump in until finally, with buyers ‘all out’, the hammer knocked down amidst a buzzing atmosphere.

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"It really was an exceptional day," said Kevin Bateman of Bateman Hosegood chartered surveyors, valuers and land agents.

"The services provided by SellMyLivestock were superb. In staging the sale with this added virtual platform, and free delivery, SIG reacted to the Covid 19 restrictions and took an innovative leap forward which may well lead the way for the wider sheep industry to become the ‘new normal’."

South West Farmer:

James Edwards from Berkshire who attended the sale in person, made several purchases on the day, including the top price Elite Exlana Ram at £2,750.

After the sale James spoke about his commitment to the SIG philosophy: "Quality speaks for itself in the performance records of every ram.

"My first purchase was at the first Exlana Sale, where the highest ram then sold for £875.

"Six years later this top performing breed is now commanding four figure sums - year on year the figures continue to improve, entirely due to the commitment and foresight of the group - it's impressive!"

Almost half of the rams bought on the day were sold online.

Group treasurer, Peter Baber, said: "With each sale we hold, it’s undoubtedly clear that genetics not cosmetics attract the buyers.

"Increasingly breeders are becoming more and more committed to performance recording as a tool for genetic improvement."

Speaking after the sale Tim White said: "We were thrilled with the fantastic interest in the Elite Ram Sale which complemented similar demand for the earlier on-line sale of Commercial Grade B & C rams prior to the sale here today.

"There is a handful of these rams still available and we will do our best to fulfil the requirements of our customers."