RED BLUFF, Calif. — While much of the buzz in the Don Smith Pavilion on Jan. 27 centered on a pair of $30,000 cattle dogs auctioned the day before, the record spending spree didn’t extend to this year’s bull sales.
Bidders in the finale of the five-day Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale shelled out nearly $1.2 million for the 305 bulls that paraded through the arena — an average of nearly $3,923 per bull.
The total topped last year’s $1.1 million paid for 288 bulls — for an average of $3,819 — but fell short of the nearly $1.49 million collected in 2016. The 305 bulls auctioned two years ago averaged $4,885, down from the 2015 average of $6,554 amid a record $1.56 million haul.
Rancher Larry Stone of Canyonville, Ore., sat in the bleachers with his catalog in hand and was prepared to make an offer “if the right bull comes along,” he said.
By late morning, he remarked that the prices were about average, but he was impressed with this year’s choices.
“Good quality,” he said. “Really good quality.”
The top-selling bull was the show’s supreme champion, a Charolais sold by Cardey Ranches of Turlock, Calif., to Gary Silva of Herald, Calif., for $10,000. The runner-up in terms of price was an Angus bull sold by Cardey to Shufelberger Ranch of Millville, Calif., for $8,000.
The 77th annual bull sale was the last of four auctions held last week at Red Bluff’s fairgrounds. The highlight of the week was the Jan. 26 stock dog sale, which took in $143,500 for 16 dogs — an average of $8,968 per dog.
The Lightning 7 Cattle Co. in Preston, Idaho, and the Lazy T Ranch in Leona Valley, Calif., tied for a record by paying $30,000 apiece for female border collies Gurdy and Rose, respectively.
“They were all really, really good,” sale manager Adam Owens said of the dogs.
Last year’s sale of 14 cattle dogs fetched a total of $85,750, an average of $6,125 per dog. The top dog in 2017 sold for $20,000 to El Rancho de Casey in Jarrell, Texas.
Last week’s bidding began with the 10th annual online feeder and replacement heifer sale on Jan. 25, in which nearly 80 lots were sold.
Lot prices in the Western Video Market-hosted sale topped out at $171.50 per hundredweight for weaned heifers and $199 per hundredweight for weaned steers, above last year’s $143 and $173, respectively. Two years ago, winning bids topped out at $287 and $299, respectively.
The 65 geldings auctioned on Jan. 26 generated $771,700, with an average price of $11,892. This was an improvement over last year, when 69 geldings brought in $682,750, or an average of $9,895 per horse.
James Butler of Center, Texas, paid the top price this year at $29,500.
For the first time this year, all of the auctions included online bidding. The sales were held amid a packed week that also included a trade show with 175 vendors, a Western art contest, a kickoff breakfast, beef forums and seminars and a bull riding competition.