by Evelyn Pyburn- originally published in the Yellowstone County News 8-7-15 edition.
BILLINGS — The annual Northern Livestock Video Summertime Classic Sale, at the Public Auction Yards in Billings on July 20-22, was the biggest sale ever – selling over 100,000 head of cattle with receipts in excess of $150 million.
Prices were generally good, reported Bill Cook, general manager for Billings Livestock Commission.
“It was very favorable for the market that we have had — very much so.”
The two-and-a-half day sale had no live cattle. It was all video with buyers able to make bids over the phone or over the Internet, but many buyers come to Billings to buy in person and some producers come to observe. How many people are drawn to Billings by the sale is hard to say, said Bill Cook, but the Vermillion Ranch in Shepherd hosted more than 700 people at a steak dinner.
Bob Cook, manager of Public Auction Yards, said the dinner drew ranchers, buyers and other “cattle people” involved in the sale.
The sale sold heifers, steers, yearling steers, bred cows, bred heifers, etc. for future delivery. Prices varied depending on class and kind of cattle, reputation, location and weight.
“We sold a lot of calves (for fall delivery) from $2.50 to $3.35 a pound,” said Bill Cook.
Northern Livestock has been conducting video sales for 12 years now. They conduct four sales a year, but the Summertime Classic is the biggest. It draws cattle from throughout the region. Representatives from other markets – including Great Falls, Lewistown, Glasgow and Chinook — bring consignment agreements to the sale from throughout Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Utah, Oregon and the Dakotas. The representatives are paid a percentage of the sale.
Buyers pay $100 a head at the sale with the balance due at delivery sometime in the fall. They sold 600 lots varying from 75 to 1,500 head of cattle, predominantly calves, yearlings and bred cattle.
“The idea is to sell on the ranchers’ terms,” said Cook.
Additional sales will be held on Aug. 24 and Sept. 21.