November 2004 -- Record sales and attendance marked the Sixth Annual Rafter 7 Ranch sheep sale and auction held Sept. 4, 2004, in Yerington, Nev.
Twenty-two successful bidders, from as far away as Milan, N.Y., and as nearby as the next valley, participated in the sale.
Three purebred registered Merino rams brought more than $1,000 each at the sale. Rancher Clay Warnock of Ft. Stockton, Texas, took home the priciest animal, a ram for which he paid $1,300. Coming as it did in the first round of bidding, this quickly set the stage for subsequent sales of $1,150 and $1,050 respectively. During the previous year's auction, the highest price paid for any animal was $1,000 ? a record at the time.
"The wool of these sheep is classified as 'super fine' or 'very fine' and all wool has a comfort factor of 98 or above, as measured by American textile industry standards," said Hudson Glimp, professor of animal biotechnology at the University of Nevada, Reno. "What this means is that this is some of the best wool in the country."
With temperatures in the mid-70s and under a cloudless blue sky, about 125 people came to the ranch to bid on animals, visit with friends or simply enjoy a free barbeque of braided lamb tenderloin provided by the university's Wolf Pack Meats.
Sales included 42 purebred Merino rams that averaged $575 each and 25 purebred Merino yearling ewes that averaged more than $270 each. Additionally, 47 yearling Rafter 7 Merino rams and 146 Rafter 7 Merino sheep were sold, bringing the total number of sheep sold to 260. The sale brought receipts of $64,230.
The youngest buyer, 12-year-old Lani Estill of Eagleville, Calif., bought two rams at a total cost of $650. The young rancher will be adding them to her existing flock of 24 ewes her mother bought at last year's sale.
"This sure beats last year," said Glimp, who maintains the flock in cooperation with the Edwin L. Weigand Trust. "We sold about $56,000 worth in 2003."
Glimp, who is also a state Extension specialist with Nevada Cooperative Extension, oversees the sheep breeding program, which over 14 years has led to the production of sheep known for producing some of the finest wool in the country and adaptable to arid range conditions. An objective of the sale is to provide producers with high-quality animals from the largest Merino flock in North America.
The College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources is a founding college of the University of Nevada-Reno, one of the top research universities in the country. The college, along with the federally established Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station, offers pioneering research and education in natural resource management, biotechnology, molecular biology, agricultural production, economic development, human/animal health and nutrition and environmental sciences.