Far West and northern tier bull producers appear bullish about the 2005
bull sale season as bull consignments for the annual Red Bluff Bull &
Gelding Sale, Red Bluff, CA, are up from last year. Not only is herd
rebuilding or expansion projected this year, but sale officials said
higher-than-ever calf and yearling prices for 2004 could result in more
bulls being demanded and/or more money being paid for herd bulls. This
year’s event is scheduled for Jan. 25-29.
Bull entries for 2005 total 437, up from the 375 head consigned last
year. This year’s bull sale features bulls from 12 different breeds and
represent producers from five states—California, Oregon, Washington,
Idaho and Montana. Of the total entries, 249 are halter bulls, with the
other 188 to be a part of the Range Bull competition and sale.
As in years past, approximately 1,000 head of females, mostly heifers,
are expected to be sold during the female portion of Red Bluff. This
year’s female auction will be broadcast via Western Video Market in
addition to bidding done at the sale site.
Gelding consignments total 156 this year, with seven mules also entered.
Working stock dog numbers were at 15, as of press time, three less than
were entered for 2004. Six of the dogs to be offered will be pups,
according to Red Bluff officials.
This year’s event is a far cry from the first Red Bluff Bull Sale in
1941, which featured two dozen registered Hereford bulls. The first
breeds added to the sale list were Shorthorns in 1943 and Angus a year
later. Records show the fourth Red Bluff Sale had 350 head of breeding
stock from seven different states.
Red Bluff started as a venue for producers to evaluate and select bulls
in an environment that was “as natural as possible” with bulls competing
in both “halter” and “range-ready” competitions.
According to Red Bluff sale committee members, the fact that there’s a
range-ready division has helped in the development of a buyer base that
continues to grow.
Bulls in the range-ready division are in their “working clothes,” which
allows prospective buyers to analyze the bulls for what they actually
are and see what they’ll look like when out in pasture and rangeland
The halter show is similar to shows held during major state fairs and
In both divisions, bulls are sifted by a three-person committee prior to
the show. Sifters, and the sale veterinarian, closely inspect all bulls
for important phenotypic and production traits. Muscling, conformation,
structure, mobility, and production records are all looked at to
determine if a bull is eligible to be shown.
After being sifted, a committee of three producers judge all the bulls
to determine the sale order for the bulls.
This year’s sift committee consists of Gordon Bruce, Los Molinos, CA;
Buttons Dougherty, Vina, CA; John Owens, Red Bluff, CA; and O.W. Hooton,
DVM, Red Bluff, CA. Hooton is the sale veterinarian.
The bull judging committee includes Steve Coleman, Molalla, OR; Ken
Hufford, North Powder, OR; and Dave Peterson, Powell Butte, OR.
Sifters and judges are on a three-year rotation, with a new judge and
sifter coming on board every year to replace the one who has worked
three consecutive sales.
While primarily known as a traditional bull sale, Red Bluff has
diversified its interests over the years.
A sale for commercial replacement heifers was added to Red Bluff in
1990, and offers the largest number of head to be sold during the event.
This year’s sale is expected to be around 1,000 head of first-calf
heifer pairs, fall- and spring-bred heifers and open heifers. All heifer
lots will be judged on both quality of individual animals and the
consistency within each load lot.
The 1996 and 1997 Red Bluff heifer sales were the largest in the event’s
history, when 1,500 head were sold each year.
In addition to cattle, Red Bluff features sales for working geldings,
working mules, and stock dogs.
The gelding sale at Red Bluff was started in 1963, with a total of 22
horses being shown and sold. The top selling gelding in 1963 brought
$400. Last year’s sale saw 99 geldings sell for an average of $6,025.
The top selling gelding in 2004 brought $21,000.
Working mules are also a popular sale item at Red Bluff. Last year eight
mules average $4,875. The top seller sold for $6,400. The record selling
mule was sold back in 2003 for $30,000.
The stock dog sale at Red Bluff has become one of the more popular
spectator events at Red Bluff with audience capacity filled for both the
competition and sale.
“Interest in our dog work and sale has grown enormously over the past
several years. With such a popular event, it is often necessary to
adjust scheduling to meet the needs of our buyers and consignors. At the
1998 sale an additional work class was added in order to show the
ability of these dogs to work in the open, with a larger number of
cattle,” one Red Bluff official said.
The dogs are first checked by the sale committee veterinarian, then put
through a series of works, one inside and one outside.
The dog sale begins after all dogs have worked outside. The sale is in
the Don Smith building.
Last year, 12 dogs made the sale and averaged $3,708, with the top
seller bringing $10,500. — WLJ