More than 200 bulls and heifers were up for auction Monday at Harrell Hereford Ranch’s annual spring production sale at the ranch along Salmon Creek about eight miles west of Baker City.
Ranchers from across the West, and as far away as Virginia and Alberta, Canada, strolled from one stock pen to another to evaluate yearling and two-year-old Hereford bulls in preparation for the 12:30 p.m. bull sale.
Those cattlemen weren’t looking for just any bull.
“The customer base here is purebred customers,” said Ringman Scott Holt. “(They’re) coming to buy genetics to add to their herd — to make their own purebred herd better than it currently is.”
He said the highest quality bulls will go to some of the top purebred cattle producers.
Other customers aim to buy bulls that will be put on the range to sire calves that will be retained in a commercial herd as females, or steers that will go into the food supply.
Besides bulls, Monday’s sale featured 67 registered heifers and 20 quarter horses from the Harrell-Mackenzie Ranch.
Jay George, owner of United Livestock Brokers in Kansas, has worked with Harrell Hereford’s sales since 1989.
George said buyers on Monday claimed 130 bulls at an average price of about $5,400.
That the average price is down from last year’s $5,900 reflects both the steep drop in cattle prices in 2016, as well as this year’s harsh winter, George said.
Nonetheless, George said he considers this year’s sale a success.
“There was a very strong, very consistent buyer support considering the market,” he said Tuesday. “This sale was above and beyond what the average sale has been in this part of the country.”
The top bull sold for $21,000 to Buford Ranches in Oklahoma, George said.
Sales of registered heifers averaged $2,800, bred heifers averaged $2,900, and commercial heifers $1,500.
The top heifers sold for $6,000 to a ranch in Washington, George said.
Horse sales averaged $5,700, with the top horse going for $11,000 to a buyer in Idaho.
Thomas Angus Ranch
On Tuesday the focus shifted several miles to the Thomas Angus Ranch’s annual spring sale.
Rob Thomas said he was “very, very pleased with the interest and turnout.”
Bidders bought about 150 bulls, averaging about $4,000, and about 70 heifers averaging about $3,000.
Like George, Thomas said prices were lower than last year.
“We fully expect to see continued strong demand for bulls, it’s just going to be at a different price level,” Thomas said.