VIDEO: Video cattle auction seen as win-win

The Southern Alberta Livestock Exchange held the biggest video sale ever on Sept. 15 with its Western Canadian Fall Classic. More than 35,000 head sold throughout the day with headquarters at the Lethbridge Lodge Hotel. At right, auctioneer and field representative Ryan Konynenbelt takes bids over the phone for one of the early lots on offer.  |  Barb Glen photo

Buyers get to see a variety of cattle and sellers get exposure to Canadian and American markets, says auctioneer

More than 35,000 cattle were sold Sept. 15 at a Lethbridge hotel.

It wasn’t messy at all.

It was a sale via video, a process that has become common in Canada in recent years after be-coming commonplace in the United States.

Sale averages were not available at press time, but Allan Lively of the Southern Alberta Livestock Exchange, which held the sale, said the process went well.

“I think overall the producers were happy. The market was steady all day and kind of set the tone for the fall.”

More than 300 lots were sold with video accompanying each one for the benefit of buyers in the room and online via web interface.

“It’s our biggest sale,” said Justin Keeley of S.A.L.E.

“Last year we were about 34,000, but last year we had about 4,000 yearlings in it and this year there’s only one lot of yearlings, so it’s just over 36,000.”

All calves were scheduled for delivery from the end of September through to December.

“DLMS (Direct Livestock Marketing Systems) and TEAM (The Electronic Auction Market) and a lot of them guys have had some big sales also and this definitely doesn’t hurt,” added Keeley.

“It kind of gives a level, in a broader area from Saskatchewan to B.C., it will kind of let a guy know what (prices are) going to be for awhile anyway.”

Keeley said the market is a bit stronger this year than last, which is fortunate considering that a rise in the value of the Canadian dollar adversely affects prices.

Frank Jenkins, auctioneer and field representative for the livestock exchange, held the gavel for much of the sale.

“From the producers’ standpoint, they get to expose their cattle to every eligible buyer from Canada, the U.S. and wherever. It’s just kind of a stress-free way of selling, of being able to present a lot of cattle in one place,” said Jenkins.

“I think from a buyer’s point of view, I think they like it too because where else are they going to go to have a chance to bid on that many good calves in one day and be able to sort of schedule their feedlots for the deliveries? I think it just works for both parties.”

The livestock exchange opened its facilities to livestock when a fire near Waterton forced the evacuation of many area ranchers.

Keeley said a few cows, calves and horses are making a temporary home at the auction market as a result.

“It’s not a huge deal but if you can help one or two people, it’s good to keep their critters safe.”

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