Mar 272012
 
Authors: Austin Briggs

Some of the biggest names in the cattle producing industry were in Fort Collins this weekend to take part in CSU’s 36th annual sale of yearling bulls and heifers.

Sponsored by CSU’s Seedstock Merchandising Team and Leachman Cattle of Colorado, the sale was the culmination of seven months of hard work by the eight student members of the Seedstock Merchandising Team who prepared the cattle for sale.

More than 550 buyers and potential buyers attended the joint sale at the university’s Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center off Interstate-25 north of Fort Collins.

Jason Ahola, an associate professor of beef production systems in the Department of Animal Sciences and faculty adviser to the Seedstock Merchandising Team, said the CSU team sold 40 bulls and 20 heifers for approximately $145,000. Overall, 850 cattle were sold for an estimated $2.6 million.

The money from the bulls and heifers sold goes back into the Seedstock Merchandising Team and to the CSU cattle herd.

Ahola said beef prices have been steadily rising the last few years, and the industry is healthy. These factors contributed to making this year’s sale one of the best in recent memory.

“We did a little bit better than last year but significantly better than several years ago,” Ahola said. “So it’s trending upward, but at the same time cattle industry prices are very good in general.”

The students involved in the program are selected each fall after applying to the program and going through an interview process. They work much like professional cattle ranchers and select, develop and market the cattle they will eventually sell.

The students have managed veterinary procedures, such as vaccinations and breeding-soundness exams, and have groomed and halter-broken the animals. The team members have also created sale materials, including videos, a sale catalog, sale invitations and flyers.

Senior agricultural business and animal science major Mathew Noggle said the program provides both real-world experience and a chance to meet people in the industry.

“This gives us the hands-on experience and teaches us what’s going on without having to jump in and take on a whole herd by ourselves right out of college,” Noggle said. “That’s a big investment. You have to have land, cattle…all that kind of stuff. This gives us a real-world opportunity.”

The cattle come from a herd that is owned and operated by the College of Agricultural Science at CSU.

Offered for sale were purebred Hereford, purebred Angus and Herford-Angus crossbred cattle, referred to as “seedstock” because the animals are raised to pass on high-quality genetics in cow-calf ranching operations.

These cattle sold won’t be ending up on a dinner plate at a steakhouse. Instead, they will be bred with cows to produce calves that will eventually be eaten.

Throughout the last seven months, the eight-member team has attended trade shows and conventions throughout the country. This has allowed members of the team to meet leaders in the industry and network and make contacts, which are vital to be successful in the industry.

Senior equine and animal science major Kortney Bahem said she found the networking to be one of the most important parts of the whole program.

“The ranching and ag industry is such a face-to-face basis,” Bahem said. “You can have the greatest P.h.D. in the world, but if those people in the industry don’t know who you are, or if you don’t make an effort to meet these people and interact, then you would almost have been better off not going to college.”

Collegian writer Austin Briggs can be contacted at news@collegian.com.

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