NICK Ranken has never been one to have all of his eggs in the same basket.
Breeding cattle, Merinos and Coopworths provides a sound income stream for the family's Boonerah Estate at Mortlake.
Last week Nick and son Dougal were in Melbourne for the sale of their December shorn 86-bale Merino wool clip.
They were not disappointed, despite the easing in the overall market that saw the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator close the week down 26c/kg clean to 1190c/kg.
Their top price of 1149c/kg greasy was paid on a hogget line of 18.3-micron wool with a yield of 78.4 per cent.
At the other end of their micron range, a 10-bale line of 21.2-micron wool, also with a high yield of 77.5 per cent, sold for 1000c/kg.
Nick said the family did not buy in sheep for biosecurity reasons, particularly to prevent lice.
They also breed their own rams, with any introduced genetics coming via semen.
The Boonerah clip is a long-stapled, bold-crimping wool.
Nick said it did fine in the wetter and colder climate of Mortlake, despite the scepticism in some Merino circles.
As for farm returns, Nick said the Merinos would have been in front during the past 12 months.
Consolations from last week's easing in prices included that falls were significantly less in US dollars and were on an exceptionally large national offering of 58,409 bales.
The clearance of 51,644 bales was the highest rate in more than a year.
Although the EMI was only 38c/kg higher than this time last year, it masks much larger differences in the micron ranges.
The southern 17-micron indicator - which last week closed at 1679c/kg clean - is 23 per cent under its rate of 12 months ago, whereas the 20 and 21-micron indicators are up 16 per cent.
In its weekly report, exporter and processor Michell said the top end of European market appeared to be in good shape.
But the much larger mid-micron market was struggling, with plenty of unsold retail stock.
"In micron terms, this makes sense as the fine end is still relatively cheap whereas the mid-microns are relatively expensive," the report said.
"In the US, where there have been some signs of the economy bottoming out, wool imports are still on the slide.
"Recent data shows a 2 per cent drop in imports of all woollen products.
"Surprisingly, for the same period, Japan had a 7 per cent increase in woollen imports."