Photo by Matt Stensland
North Western Colorado Bull Sale auction commentator Bill Gay, middle, tells the crowd about a bull Saturday at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden. The average sale price of the bulls was $2,706.
Steamboat Springs Wyoming rancher Hugh Peltz pulled into the Routt County Fairgrounds on Saturday morning with an empty trailer that could hold about 10 head of cattle. He hoped to leave with a full trailer and 10 new Angus bulls to take home to his ranch.
“I’m not into any particular blood lines,” Peltz said as he sat in the fairground bleachers waiting for the auction to begin. “I’m just going to look at their performance and then make a decision. They’ve got some good bulls here, and they’re all high-altitude, too.”
The North Western Colorado Bull Sale saw 35 bulls change hands, bringing in a total of $94,700. The bulls sold for an average of $2,706, which is the highest average in the sale’s history, according to Marsha Daughenbaugh, executive director of the Community Agriculture Alliance.
Daughenbaugh said the sale began a decade ago when the alliance, Routt County CattleWomen and the Routt County Extension Office saw the need to organize a local auction.
“It might never be the biggest bull sale,” Daughenbaugh told the crowd of more than 100 people. “We just hope we can grow every year.”
This year’s sale, the ninth annual, took place on a rainy, cool Saturday morning.
The ranchers and their families were dressed in winter ranch wear and mud boots as they ambled around the large animal barn, tipping their hats to one another. Carhartt-clad children climbed fences and rolled in the dirt while their parents talked shop with friends and colleagues.
“It’s a nice opportunity for people to get together and visit with neighbors and buy some nice bulls,” Daughenbaugh said.
The sale bulls came from several seed stock ranches across Northwest Colorado, from as far as Carbondale and as near as Craig.
Buying bulls from the mountain area is an important consideration for local ranchers.
Angus raised at a lower elevation can sometimes have heart problems when living up high, Daughenbaugh said, so many of the ranchers advertised their animals as high-altitude bulls and touted the animals’ Pulmonary Arterial Pressure test scores as a measure of their resilience at high elevations.
“They have to be hardy, just like we are,” Daughenbaugh said.
Bulls are bred for certain characteristics, including the birth weight of the calves they can produce. Ranchers intending to buy eyed the stature of the animals in addition to the collection of statistics posted on their pens.
Daughenbaugh said most of the bulls bought at Saturday’s event would stay in the Yampa Valley area, producing the local Angus beef stock for years to come.
Before the sale began, James Carnahan, of Rifle, said he was optimistic about the cattle market and expected to receive fair prices for his bulls.
“They’ve been up,” he said about prices. “The cattle market is really good right now.”
The numbers turned out even better than expected, with the average price almost $500 higher than last year. One of Carnahan’s bulls sold for $4,200.
“It’s good for the cattle industry, you bet,” Daughenbaugh said about the sale prices this year. “And there were good animals here today, and the buyers recognized that.”
— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com