Bull Sales: Genetic Opportunities for Ranchers

April 8, 2024

Spring calving keeps ranchers busy. As this year's calf crop arrives, producers are contemplating the future through their bull buying selections. That, of course, will steer the direction of their cattle herds for years to come.

"People are paying a lot more attention to genetics,” said Livestock Auctioneer Roger Jacobs. “They've come to understand that there's a big difference between commodity cattle and premium type, program cattle. You've got to put some carcass in these cattle.”

Jacobs, with 40 years of auctioneering under his hat, made the comments before the 48th Arntzen Angus Ranch Bull Sale that took place near Hilger, Montana. For over 30 years, he has sold the families bulls from the auction block. 

Watch: Western Ag Networks special report from the 48th Arntzen Angus Bull Sale

“There's got to be some incentive for people to pay extra when they buy these feeder cattle,” said Jacobs. “They're willing to do it if they know the premiums are going to come at the other end as well.”

Like other seed stock producers, for over six decades, Arntzen Angus has been developing cattle for commercial cattlemen to be profitable.

“We just breed for really functional animals,” said Brad Arntzen.  “Most of it comes back to the cow. We want good udders, good disposition, good feet. Especially around here. They got to travel. You can't have something that's going to be hobbling around or there's just not enough grass to eat. So, we really try to strive for those things. Have these bulls go out, last a long time for people. They can get a lot more mileage out of them. Then the daughters on those bulls continue to pump them back in it. It makes the herd so much stronger.”

Brad Arntzen recognized the multiple challenges that ranchers across Montana and the West have faced over the past five years. From drought, grasshoppers, higher input costs. The list goes on and on. 

“It's been a challenge,” said Arntzen. “And now we're finally seeing some good prices. It looks like a place where people can start making a little money, going ahead, and paying off a little debt and kind of getting themselves, into a little bit better situation financially.”

Despite the challenges, Arntzen sees opportunity for ranchers as they rebuild their herds.

“The one thing that we could get out of this by getting rid of all those bottom end cows, is we could really strengthen our cow herds,” Arntzen explained. “And we're at such a good spot, I think it makes more sense to try and go ahead and put some quality back in. So, we don't take a step back again. And, I would say the same thing when folks talk about trying to run one less bull. There's so much value in a bred animal and it far exceeds the cost of one more bull. If you know that, you can do a better job at getting your cows bred up and in a good way come fall.”

This year's spring bull sales are a testament to ranchers wanting to keep quality genetics in their herd.

“It’s by far and above the best we've ever seen,” said Roger Jacobs. The interest in the sales has been phenomenal. Big crowds and a lot of optimism.”

48th Arntzen Angus Bull Sale Results:

200 Yearling Angus bulls $6,958

20 Open Angus Heifers $4,713

Top Lots 13 & 30 $20,000

Source: Western Ag Network