Selling cattle at Platte Valley, Platte Valley Livestock Auction continues tradition of cattle sales
Gering, Neb. – In 1958, the Morrison brothers built Platte Valley Livestock Auction and started a legacy that would continue for the next 60 years.
Now, Jerry Weekes, his son Josh and a team of representatives work together at the operation to continue their work.
Weekes, a native of North Dakota, started his adult life as a rancher, raising yearlings and breaking horses on the Standing Rock Reservation.
He and his wife Sally moved to Nebraska when Sally’s parents fell ill.
“My wife Sally and I bought Platte Valley Livestock Auction in 1995,” says Weekes. “It looked like a good deal and a good opportunity.”
“We are family owned and operated, and we take as much pride in selling livestock as our customers do in raising them,” he adds.
Activity at Platte Valley
Platte Valley Livestock auction hosts cattle sales every Monday at 9 a.m., proudly advertising their consignments as “country fresh cattle – 90 percent of our bawling calves come in sale day.”
They also host a wide variety of special sales throughout the year to market bred cows, yearlings and more.
“We generally sell feeder calves every other week,” Weekes says. “We also sell cows and bred cows almost every day. There’s only one sale a year – generally the first sale of the year, that we do not sell weigh-ups.”
In addition to being an auction barn, Weekes says they help a number of ranches market their cattle, and their customer base has been loyal.
“We try to offer service with a smile at every sale,” Weekes says. “We do the best we can to serve everybody, whether they’re large or small.”
Customers come to Platte Valley Livestock Auction from across the region. Weekes has seen producers from Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming, along with a few other states here and there.
“We don’t hire a lot of field men, and we don’t do any advertising. We rely on word of mouth,” he says. “We do the best we can to take care of our customers.”
Platte Valley Livestock Auction has a crew of 30 employees – all but two of whom have been with the company five years or longer.
Field representatives Josh Weekes, Steve Flowers and Jerry McMackin serve to interface with customers and help meet their needs before reaching the auction. Andrew Sanchez works as the yard manager, and Weekes’ wife Sally is essential to keeping the place moving.
“All of the people who work with us are very dedicated,” Weekes comments. “People who work here stay here for a long time, which is something we like.”
Challenge and change
While Platte Valley Livestock has thrived over the last six decades, Weekes says the agriculture industry’s climate has changed in that time.
“Things are different now than they were 20 years ago,” he explains. “Cattle numbers are shrinking in this valley.”
Today, ranches that used to be 150 to 200 cow outfits are being taken over by farms and small operations.
“There aren’t any small ranches to speak of in the valley,” he comments. “We see more people who have 10 acres in the country with a horse, llama, a few sheep or a steer.”
However, Weekes see a continued demand for their service.
“As long as there are cattle, people need to sell,” Weekes continues. “We couldn’t get along without the people who buy from us, either, though.”
The future ahead
Weekes enjoys the livestock auction business, and he says, “It takes a lot of work and time to invest in this business.”
“I’ll probably work here five or six more years, and we’ll see what happens from there,” Weekes continues, speculating his son Josh may take over the auction after he retires.
“Agriculture is a hard way to make an easy living,” Weekes says. “It’s either feast or famine.”
With operating costs for farms or ranches higher than ever before, Weekes further says, “Everybody in agriculture or related to agriculture is affected. It’s getting more and more difficult to operate.”
Despite the challenges, he comments, “I enjoy the people here more than anything.”
For more information, visit Platte Valley Livestock online at plattevalleylivestock.com.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.