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Bison sale sees more animals, higher prices

Brian and Eleanor Brown bolstered their bison herd last week after taking home both the grand champion bull and the high selling animal.

Sixty-seven animals sold during the Canadian National Sale at Canadian Western Agribition Nov. 21.

The Browns have operated High Plains Drifters at Hodgeville, Sask., since 1998. Brian Brown said he spent money on good quality sires for his 150 cows because he had previously bought from the consigner and knew he would get results.

He spent $25,000 on a two-year-old bull and $18,000 for the grand champion, a yearling bull, from XY Bison Ranch from Fort St. John, B.C.

“I like the conformation and stuff,” Brown said.

“I’ve bought from him in the past and they’ve performed well.”

The sale averaged $7,935, down just slightly from last year’s $8,032.

However, prices for bred heifers were much higher than last year, averaging $9,350 compared to $5,085.

Sale manager and consigner Nolan Miller said the prices were generally consistent within the categories of animals.

“We had lots more animals than last year and it was good to see that there was lots of different buyers as well,” he said.

Two-year-old bulls averaged $11,458, yearling bulls averaged $10,107 and yearling heifers averaged $5,038.

Pens of two bred heifers averaged $7,125 while yearling pens were $4,057.

Miller said meat prices have been steady for a few years, which gives producers confidence to spend money on quality stock and increase their herds, which is what the industry needs.

He said there are about 230,000 head in Canada and twice that in North America.

Brown has raised bison long enough to have gone through the tremendous ups and downs as the industry established itself.

“There was a time that we really struggled,” he said.

“The prices have rebounded now. I hope that this isn’t going to be one of like the times I got into it that the price is high, high and then the bottom dropped out and you could hardly get rid of animals.”

Brown said he thinks market demand is strong enough now so that won’t happen.

Asked why he stuck with the industry during the rough times, his wife, Eleanor, said, “he believed in the animal.”

Added Brown: “I listen to the wife.”

In the show ring, the reserve champion male was a two-year-old bull from Silver Creek Bison, which is Miller’s family operation at Binscarth, Man.

The champion female was a two-year-old bred heifer from Bison Spirit Ranch of Oak Lake, Man., and the reserve was also a two-year-old bred heifer from Prairieland Bison of Hodgeville, Sask.

The champion female sold for $18,000 to Shale Creek Bison of Russell, Man.

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