The steady rhythm of an auctioneer’s chant fills the barn as a subtle head nod in the crowd is followed by a ringman’s cry. Another bull has been sold and exits the ring.

For any production sale to run smoothly it takes an entire team of people. Kansas State University’s 36th annual Legacy Sale, held Friday, March 1, used students enrolled in the livestock sales management class to have its most successful sale to date.

Twenty-nine students pitched in on sale day, each playing an instrumental part in the sale’s success. From bringing cattle into the sale ring to registering buyers, students worked diligently under their professors’ supervision.

Senior in animal sciences and industry, Teague Harris, of Hepler, Kan., stepped up to take bids. During the beginning of the sale, Harris and a couple of classmates stood at the side of the ring watching seasoned ringmen before making their debut. Periodically the ringmen would step aside to give the watching students words of advice.

“I was really nervous before the sale started because it’s a high pressure situation,” Harris said. “But once we got into the sale my nerves calmed down and it was a whole lot of fun.”

Junior in animal sciences and industry, Elizabeth Forsyth, of Abilene, Kan., also felt pressure while running the registration and settlement computer program.

“I feared I would mess up the system and it would escalate into a bigger problem,” Forsyth said.

The registration and settlement table ran smoothly and Forsyth ended up enjoying the experience. She said it was a lot of fun to see how many different Kansas towns and different states were represented. Cattle sold to seven different states and Russia.

Purebred beef barn manager Ryan Breiner, animal sciences and industry teaching coordinator Dr. Dave Nichols and animal sciences and industry associate professor Dr. Dan Moser collaborate to teach the class.

“The purpose of the class is to give undergraduate students real-world, hands-on experience in livestock marketing and merchandising,” Breiner said.

Guest speakers are used to give students expertise from broad areas of the beef industry.

“We strive to select speakers that will show the scope of what it takes to run a successful program and production sale,” Breiner said. “Topics like marketing strategies, publication use, social media, catalog design, internet auctions, video and DNA technology.”

Kent Jaecke, field staff for Focus Marketing Group, spoke to the class about how to correctly video livestock. Jaecke is a former student and shared stories about his success in the professional world using the skills and opportunities he received in the class. He encouraged students to take advantage of any learning opportunities. The next day filming the sale cattle, Jaecke taught students how shoot quality video while giving career advice.        

Senior in agricultural economics with a minor in animal science, Tyler Pracht, of Westphalia, Kan., took advantage of the opportunity to discuss career options with Jaecke.

“I really liked when Jaecke talked to the class and I went out to talk to him about a career opportunity and how to get involved,” Pracht said.

Pracht is interested in field staff work after college and has worked as a ringman in the past. The Legacy Sale is the biggest he has ever worked and he took direction during the sale from Justin Stout, field man for The Stock Exchange.

“I learned different things to look for that people use to make a bid,” Pracht said. “Justin Stout stood right next to me, pointed people out and gave me a few pointers. He definitely helped me out a lot.”

Guest speaker topics also included breeding and management philosophies, herd health laws and livestock photography advice. For some students the speakers gave them ideas to take home to their family’s operations. For others it was the first time being exposed to the work that goes into a production sale.

Junior in animal sciences and industry with a minor in agronomy, Meghan Hecht, Colwich, Kan., had little experience in the beef industry prior to attending K-State and took the sales management class to learn more about production sales.

“I wanted livestock sales experience and to figure out what goes into putting on a livestock sale,” Hecht said. “I was surprised when we learned about sale catalog development because I had never seen that part, especially when we talked about picture taking and the lighting and angles it involves. I finally got the big picture of everything.”

The livestock sales management course was created with K-State’s first production sale in 1977. The sale was driven by the success of the Angus heifer, Manhattan Gal, who won champion female at the National Western Stock Show, American Royal and North American International Livestock Exposition. Then-head of the department of animal sciences and industry Don Good, and former animal sciences and industry teaching coordinator Miles McKee, saw an opportunity to use the production sale as a teaching tool for students.

Prior to 2008, The Legacy Sale was called the Special “K” Sale. Nichols said the name change was primarily to highlight the legacy of the livestock selection and improvement at K-State.

“The name changed to The Legacy Sale, honoring 128 years of breeding cattle. Today we’re at 132 years of genetic improvement,” Nichols said.

Over the years more than just the sale’s name has changed. It’s also found a new location at the K-State Stanley Stout Center. Before Friday’s sale, hundreds of people gathered at the dedication of the building built in honor of the late Stanley Stout. Stout not only served as The Legacy Sale’s auctioneer for several years, he also played a key role in livestock sales management course.

“Stanley was a huge supporter of K-State,” Nichols said. “Regardless to how busy he was, he always made it a priority to come speak to our sales class and then come back later to be the auctioneer.”

Students and instructors agree the livestock sales management class has offers one of a kind learning experience. The time put in by the professors and students working together holds multiple rewards.

“The most rewarding part of a sale like this is after the gavel drops on the final animal. There is a sense of pride for our university, accomplishment for a successful sale, and camaraderie of students that collectively experienced so many little details coming together for a three-hour event,” Breiner said. “We hope that the knowledge they gained in this class will benefit them in future endeavors.”

Laura Mushrush is a Senior in ag communications at Kansas State University