A strong bison sale kicked off the many livestock sales at Canadian Western Agribition last week.
Show and sale chair Nolan Miller of Silver Creek Bison at Binscarth, Man., said prices were up from last year.
“We’ve been consistently climbing in prices for about the last six, seven years, and this year seemed to really top the market,” he said.
Forty-three head sold for an average $6,990 compared to last year’s average of $4,818.
Miller consigned the high seller, a $21,000 two-year-old bull that placed second in the show. The Wood cross went to Elk Valley Ranches of Kitscoty, Alta.
The grand champion, also a Wood cross, was a yearling consigned by Sandy Busche of XY Bison in Fort St. John, B.C. It sold for $20,500 to Beldon Bison Ranch of Nipawin, Sask.
Miller also consigned the top selling female and grand champion, a two-year-old bred heifer that Shale Creek Bison of Russell, Man. bought for $13,500.
The reserve, from Borderland Agriculture at Pierson, Man., sold for $4,250 to Bison Spirit Ranch of Oak Lake, Man.
“I was surprised how well the prices stayed up all the way through,” Miller said. “We had lots of buyers.”
He said the sale was on target when compared to the meat market.
“Right now down in the U.S., it’s about $4.25, $4.35 a pound on the rail for a butcher bull. When you take the exchange rate into factor, that’s pushing almost $5.50,” he said. “You got a 600 pound carcass, you get almost $4,000. So for a breeding bull to bring $8,000, it pencils out for guys.”
He said aggressive marketing by the meat industry, strong exports to the United States and the ex-change rate mean supply can hardly keep up with demand.
“Everyone’s kind of flying high right now,” he said.
Miller sold six animals in the sale and bought two.
“I usually don’t go home with an empty trailer,” he said.
The bison industry suffered losses following the discovery of BSE in Canada in 2003, both economically and in terms of producer numbers.
However, the sector has since recovered, and Miller said there should be enough money for everyone in the chain to make a living and be comfortable.
“With the prices coming back, we’re seeing a lot of people increasing (herd sizes),” he said.
“We’re starting to see some new people getting into the business now. I expect after a few more sales this winter we’ll see some more interest from potential new producers.”