Steady to bullish seedstock markets expected to continue
Ranchers purchasing bulls in Wyoming this spring can expect similar to slightly higher prices than last year with more attention placed on quality.
“As always people are quality conscious and know the good ones. If a bull has good numbers and people like the quality there is a lot of activity on him,” states Torrington Livestock Markets owner and auctioneer Lex Madden.
“There is a continued trend toward overall quality at bull sales this year. Buyers seem to be willing to spend more on top quality bulls, and if they don’t particularly like a bull for one reason or another, then they tend to pass on him regardless of the price being asked,” adds Wyoming Livestock Roundup Livestock Field Representative Curt Cox.
Madden comments that most of the sales he’s auctioneered have been pretty steady to $100 to $200 up or down from past years. He mentions Joe Van Newkirk’s Hereford sale at Oshkosh, Neb. was around $200 higher, while the Weaver Ranch at Fort Collins, Colo. was about $100 higher than last year. He also added Ken Haas Angus of LaGrange was slightly higher.
“Almost everyone has been satisfied with the demand for their bulls,” says Cox. Wyoming Livestock Roundup Sales Representative TV Jones adds that the strong demand is consistent throughout breeds, noting recent Angus, Hereford and Red Angus sales he’s attended were stronger than in recent years.
The current price trends are expected to continue throughout the remainder of the spring sales.
“People like to do business with those they like and trust. They continue to go and support those breeders with a proven, honest program. If someone believes in a program they will wait for that sale. For those reasons I don’t necessarily think the guys selling later will get penalized,” says Madden.
Cox and Jones agree that ranchers purchasing bulls later in the spring can expect prices to be consistent with current sales. “I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t see averages remain slightly higher,” comments Cox.
Madden adds that some buyers wait to purchase bulls until April or May when they know how many pairs and heifers they will have. They are a different faction of buyers and create another marketing option for bull producers.
“A lot of guys still sell privately in April and May. Several breeders hold back some younger bulls or keep some as replacements to substitute if a sale bull is injured. There is still a market for them,” he explains.
Historically weather has been a large factor in sale day attendance. Jones notes that modern technology has limited the negative impact weather can have. “Baker Hereford’s sale near Rapid City, S.D. was cold son-of-a-gun and only had about two-thirds of the normal attendance this year because people couldn’t get there. But, they used their cells phones and the video auction route and the sale went really well,” he explains.
Low cow numbers are also affecting how many bulls ranchers need. Madden comments that, unless ranchers have retained a lot of heifers to breed, the numbers aren’t going to increase much this year.
“Hopefully they are keeping heifers so we can build the numbers back up. This is the lowest cow numbers have been since the 1950s. Hay is $30 cheaper than a year ago and there was way more moisture last summer and fall and a little more snow this winter. Hopefully those guys can start expanding their herds again. It makes it a lot easier and less stressful to manage an operation when you have moisture,” says Madden.
He notes there are a lot of bull sales and private treaty bulls available and people are able to be more selective. Jones adds that seedstock producers are continuing to increase quality and Cox comments that most breeders are offering fewer bulls this year. These factors combine to keep averages consistent to above average.
“If you have it in mind that you want to purchase a high quality bull, you have to understand there’s a lot of demand for them this year and you might have to give a little more. But, in the long run it’s definitely worth it,” says Cox.
Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.