Cattle producers and buyers are finding a win-win method of marketing cattle in the Cattlemen’s Exchange and Homeplace Producer Sales.

Mississippi State University’s Extension Service is partnering with several organizations and sale barns to offer auctions in Winona and Hattiesburg for cattle that may never pass through either of those cities. Cattle remain on their home farms while buyers cast bids based on written descriptions of the cattle and video technology.

“These board sales are open to anyone in the state, and any sale barn can be involved as well,” said Jane Parish, Extension beef cattle specialist. “The sales work to everyone’s advantage, including the cattle’s.”

Short video clips of the cattle are posted on the Extension Service and Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation websites for buyers to view before the sale along with detailed descriptions of cattle type, weight and management. The same videos are presented during the auction.

“The cattle do not experience the stress and health challenges from mixing with other cattle during a public sale,” Parish said. “Buyers do not have to attend several sales to accumulate a large number of similar cattle. Sale barns still receive commissions but have fewer overhead expenses. Producers most often receive a premium for their cattle.”

The April sale in Winona set new price records with 30 loads of calves. The heaviest calves -- four loads of 875-pound steers -- brought $125.75 per hundredweight. The lightest -- a mixed load of 425-pound calves -- sold for $157.75 per hundredweight.

“More than 2,000 cattle were sold in less than an hour,” Parish said. “The receipts from the sales approached $1.9 million and averaged well above market value for the week of the sale.”

Lance Newman, area animal science agent for Extension, said the sales, which started in 2007, are producer-driven.

“Producers needed a way to improve marketing of cattle. By selling in load lots, or in groups, they get more money for their cattle,” Newman said. “The sales appeal to producers of all sizes. Those with smaller herds can combine with other producers. If prices ever disappoint a producer, the seller could pass and opt for another method of marketing the cattle.”

Newman said sale barns are important in the success of the program. “Sale barns are licensed and bonded, so producers know they will get a payment for their cattle. Barns lower their commission to 2 percent instead of the 4 percent or 5 percent that are normal in the sale barn, but they are selling larger numbers of cattle at one time.”

Ray Welch owns Winona Stockyard and has been supportive of the program since the beginning. He sells his own cattle through the board sales.

“These sales are the best way to maximize profits. Sale barns may get lower commissions, but 2 percent of a lot of money is still a good profit,” Welch said. “Buyers could have to buy from 10 different sales to equal the number of cattle in one of these loads.”

Van Johnson of Webster County has sold his cattle through sale barns, by private treaty and now through the board sales.

“I like that more buyers see the cattle and bid against each other. I know I’m getting the best price,” Johnson said.

MSU’s Extension Service partners with the Mississippi Beef Cattle Improvement Association, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation and Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association on these sales. Since 2008, more than 13,700 head of cattle have been marketed in these board sales. Together, the receipts from these sales exceeded $8 million.
 
The next Mississippi Homeplace Producers’ Sale will be Aug. 1, and consignments are due by June 30. Those interested in taking advantage of this marketing opportunity should contact the local Extension office or a representative from one of the partnering organizations.