Sept. 7 was a historic day for the Rafter 7 Ranch in Nevada. First, several records at its annual ram sale were shattered with the top price paid of $4,400 for one of its fine-wool rams. Tom Filbin, manager, says the buyer attendance was widespread with these genetically superior bloodlines going to more than a dozen states from the West Coast to the East Coast as well as Mexico. Plus, the bidding was strong and continuous to the end of the auction with all of the 350 head offering finding new homes.
Secondly, the ranch has a new owner. After the sale, the balance of the breeding ewes, rams, lambs, sheep equipment, stored imported semen and an invaluable 20-plus year genealogical and performance database was sold in its entirety to Rick Powers, owner of the new entity, Rafter 7 Merinos Inc.
The flock will remain in the western United States, and Rafter 7 Merinos will continue. Powers also ranches in Texas with his family and is the manager of South Carolina-based Lempriere (USA) Inc.
"The positive impact of the Rafter 7 breeding program on the U.S. sheep industry over the past 20 years has been tremendous, and I am convinced that the future impact for commercial sheep operations of this unique vision, initiated by the Wiegand Group in 1989, will be even more positive in terms of animal quality and financial returns over the next 20 years," said Powers.
The ranch will continue its annual ram sales and offer genetics year round by private treaty.