Sale season in full swing

Over the last 45 days, there have been 40 production sales that have used WLJ as one of their main advertising options in California, Oregon and Washington. These include bull sales, female sales and consignment sales. As I reflect upon this recent stretch in the far West, I feel extremely satisfied with the results. This column will expand on a few key points of observation.

First off, I cannot write a column of this nature without briefly talking about a few highlights of the fall bull sale season in the West. Selling one-half interest in VAR Powerplay 7018 for $730,000 to make him the highest valuated bull in history at $1,460,000 is the most obvious highlight thus far! Raised by Vintage Angus Ranch in Modesto, CA, this bull will now make his home at Rooney Angus Ranch in Wisconsin. Beyond this, there were bulls that were selected from California producers to serve as herd sires from some of the most prestigious purebred programs across the country. This is significant because this trend hasn’t always been the case.

The ranchers who buy the high majority of these sale offerings constitute the most important aspect of these sales. There are so many situations that can reduce or increase a sale average. Weather, markets, relationships, locations, and the list goes on as to why people buy their bull battery where they do. Going into a season, it’s extremely hard to forecast how good the sales will be and how long before most commercial ranchers have their needs filled. The spring calf market held up levels equal to slightly greater than in 2017, so that box was checked off the list. Late rains supplied grass that was able to carry most ranches through the summer months and have dry feed left over to come back to. A second major box was checked. This is how it seemed to go this year. Enough good things happened that a demand for more bulls was established and ranchers came to these sales and purchased the volume of bulls. Most sales had resulting averages from $3,500-$5,000, with the high-end range bulls selling from $7,000-$12,000.

This fall, the sales were deep and drenched in quality. Commercial cattlemen were able to buy quality bulls within their budgets. This may be the largest “feel-good” reflection of this season. From a breeder’s perspective, it is very difficult to get a group of bulls to do all the right things. Calve easy, grow fast, stay healthy, mature quickly, gain condition for sale day, and pass a breeding soundness exam by their birthday. Add all this to their pedigree, EPDs, and DNA results, these bulls have a culling decision to be made around every corner. The most obvious trend this fall was that if the bull checked all those boxes, he was met with really strong demand. Quality pays for itself, but it is the hardest thing to replicate in volume.

Another point to make is the attitude of the ranchers. I am constantly aware of the negativity that is in our politics, policies, regulations and markets. As cattlemen, we face many obstacles on a daily basis; this is rhetoric. Throughout the fall sales, it was truly enjoyable. Cattlemen are in a good mood in the West and optimism for a good winter rings true.

There are many more points to make for these past sales, but I have limited space for this column. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.

From Friday, Oct. 12 through the following Monday, the 15th, California hosted a run of seven live sales and one online heifer sale. Through these sales, some of the nation’s leading cattlemen were both buyers and sellers. As we went from one sale to the next, new highs were found. Momentum carried from one to another and cattle were placed across the country. All in all, 352 Angus and Hereford females, heifer pregnancies, and embryo lots grossed $5,313,100 to average $15,094. Looking at the bulls, 186 Angus, Hereford, Charolais, and SimAngus averaged $3,673. A complete list of sale reports for these sales will be in the next issue of the Western Livestock Journal.

As we delve further into the fall sale season, there are sales going every single day across the country. Watch for future sale advertisements and reports for the latest genetics, results, trends and more. — LOGAN IPSEN

WLJ Fieldman

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