Montana is known as the seedstock capital of the world. Because of that reputation, each year ranchers from across the nation travel to the Big Sky State to purchase some of the best cattle genetics around to improve their own herds.
Kyle Shobe is a former World Champion Livestock Auctioneer and owner of Lewistown Livestock Auction. Each spring and fall he travels the region selling bulls and females for the state's multiple registered cattle breeders.
“It's a huge part of local communities,” said Shobe. “Bull sales bring people to town from all over. A lot of these sales are held at the ranch, some at livestock markets, some are held at fairgrounds. But the key is that folks come from far and wide to my Montana genetics.”
This past weekend, Shobe was on the auction block south of Havre for the Hould Angus 5th annual production bull sale.
“The great thing about the cow business is that we don't all like the same things,” explained Shobe. “If we did, this sure would be a pretty short bull sale. The chance to come and buy whether it's bloodlines, whether it's for growth, or calving ease, everybody's got a little different need for their program at home. That's what makes this business go round.”
Rancher JBob Hould’s focus for his registered Black Angus cattle herd is to raise maternal, moderate-sized cows. His hard work attracted buyers from across the nation to attend his bull sale.
“We like a lot more moderate cow than most of our seedstock competitors,” explained Hould. “We like cows with lots of volume, lots of depth, body, and good muscle and structure. It just gives a different variety of animals for ranchers.”
Last year the COVID-19 shutdown presented a challenge to the ranch's most important day of the year.
“We had to have permission from the county to have our 2020 sale,” said Hould. “We couldn't have food for our customers. We didn't have many customers at all. A few families and customers did come and support us.”
Thankfully, online and phone bidding helped the 2020 sale avoid disaster.
In preparing for last year’s bull sale, Hould invested in new infrastructure and corrals. In addition, to the multiple years of work and genetic selection to build his herd.
“Last year was going to be the first big outing of our live auction,” Hould said.
Despite the impact of the pandemic, Hould like other ranchers, pressed forward and focused on the future. This year, he was thrilled to see the sale barn filled with eager bidders.
“It's really nice to have people here,” said Hould. “I built the facility, the corral, and the infrastructure to do this. And it was nice to see people here. We filled the barn. Fed a lot of food. So, it's nice to see everyone and we had one heck of a sale.”
This year, Hould Angus sold 57 Black Angus bulls that averaged $4,571 and 16 registered cow-calf pairs average $2,560 per/pair.
Of the nearly 42,000 bulls reported to the American Angus Association sold in the U.S. this fiscal year, Montana alone is responsible for about 19% of the total bulls sold.
As of March 31, 2021, Montana’s Black Angus bull sales have averaged $5,424 per head. During this same period, the U.S. National Average for Black Angus bulls was $5,596.