Every fall and spring, auction barns across the country rock-and-roll as customers gather at production sales to bid on the next line of genetics for their herds.
The producers hosting these sales spend months in preparation, working day and night to make sure their biggest day of the year runs smoothly. From advertising schemes to the sale date, everything is done with the customer in mind.
Over the years, technology has been an essential game changer for production sales.
First it was phone bidding, then came the internet; with the internet came video and online bidding.
Typically, cattle are filmed a few weeks before sale day and the videos are posted to the producer’s website. As customers pour over EPD’s in sale catalogs, this allows them to have a more visual representation compared to a small catalog photo.
Some producers are even taking the videos a step further. It’s increasingly growing more common to attend a production sale where the cattle never leave their pens and large TVs take the place of the ring.
Throughout the industry this has caused a buzz of questions, so three cattlemen who have worked on both sides of the fence stepped up to lend their expertise on the subject.
Director of Operations for DV Auction Brett Spader said DV Auction films and broadcasts around 650 production sales annually online. Of that total, 40 percent of their producers of have switched to having a video sale ring.
According to Spader, the biggest benefit he’s seen for producers’ not running cattle through the sale ring has been labor costs.
Gordon Stucky of Stucky Ranch, Kingman, Kan., agreed, saying his operation went from hiring around 20 sale day employees to work cattle through the ring, to seven or eight who only focus on the load out process.
Stucky Ranch holds an annual production sale every March, selling around 250 head of Angus cattle.
“The driving force behind us switching to a video ring was customers wanting to load out early,” Stucky explained. “Our sale usually lasts 2.5-3 hours and we don’t have the facilities to allow load out until the sale is completely over.”
For Joe Cavender of Cavender Ranches, Bullard, Texas, that isn’t an issue. His facility is equipped to load out customers during the sale so he continues to run cattle through the sale ring. Each December, Cavender sells around 200 head of Brangus bulls and around 150 females in April.
While Cavender doesn’t see his operation straying from current practices any time soon, he does utilize video when auctioning off commercial heifers as a way to save time.