'We think there'll be lots of interest in bulls this year'

By TIM HEARDEN

Capital Press

RED BLUFF, Calif. -- As the cattle industry in the West is becoming more lucrative, the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale is getting bigger.

The annual festival and animal showcase will begin Jan. 24 with a goal of again cracking the $1 million mark in total bull sales as it did last year.

And more bulls will be on hand to attempt the feat. The five-day gathering's finale on Jan. 28 will feature as many as 460 bulls, up from the 384 that entered in 2010, said Adam Owens, the bull sale's manager.

In addition, as many as 118 geldings, 19 stock dogs and five mules will be sold in separate auctions during the 71st annual gathering at the fairgrounds here, in addition to dozens of feeder and replacement heifer lots that will be auctioned during the fourth annual online sale.

"We're excited about the prospect of having more bulls to sell," said Owens, the great-grandson of founding member Roy Owens. "The bull market has been really good in California. We think there'll be lots of interest in bulls this year, and with the increase in bulls, there'll be plenty of opportunity for people to buy one they want. Or 10 or 12."

The animal sales aren't the only things expanding. The trade show will open up shop in an additional building this year, bringing the number of businesses and organizations with booths to about 160.

Trade show organizer Steve McCarley said he went to the show at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas recently and found there was lots of interest in coming to Red Bluff.

"It's going to be pretty full outside, too," McCarley said. "I'm still getting phone calls. ... I think it's really popular."

McCarley was a vendor at the sale for 15 years as owner of Redding (Calif.) Yamaha SeaDoo, and he likes the exciting atmosphere.

"That was the first trade show we did when we bought our business," he said of Red Bluff. "It's been really, really good for us. We sell a lot of 4-wheelers for the ranchers."

The Western art show will return after its debut last year, in which more than 100 paintings, sculptures, drawings, silverwork and other forms of art competed for $1,000 prizes in several categories.

Last year, total sales of bulls exceeded $1 million for the first time since 2006. The 277 bulls auctioned off that day sold for $1,037,600, shattering the totals of $630,400 and $709,300 in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

The average price in 2011 was $3,745.85, easily surpassing the 2010 average of $2,647. The 84 geldings and six mules auctioned off Jan. 28 generated $501,650 in sales, an average of $5,573 per animal -- up from the 2010 average of $5,147.77. Sixteen working dogs brought a total of $50,800, including one dog that sold for $10,000.

Bull sale highlights

The 70th Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale -- www.redbluffbullsale.com -- will be held Tuesday, Jan. 24, through Saturday, Jan. 28, at the fairgrounds in Red Bluff, Calif. Among the highlights:

* Kickoff breakfast, 7:30 a.m. Tuesday

* Trade and art shows, all day Wednesday through Saturday

* Working stock dogs, workouts Wednesday and Thursday and sale at 2:30 p.m. Friday

* Curt Pate horsemanship and cattle handling clinics, 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and 6 p.m. Thursday

* Internet feeder/replacement female sale, 12:30 p.m. Thursday

* Geldings and mules, arena work Thursday and Friday and sale at 5 p.m. Friday

* Sale of all bulls, 8:30 a.m. Saturday

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