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Montana Ag: Blue ribbon sale has ringtone with Montana ranchers - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Montana Ag: Blue ribbon sale has ringtone with Montana ranchers

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For ranchers, selecting the right genetics for their operation is very important to be profitable.

The mother cow plays a very important role in this. And in Billings, there’s a bred cow sale that’s been helping ranchers select the right genetics for generations.

“It’s got a ringtone not only in Montana but all across the country. People know they can come here and buy high-quality genetics. But not only high-quality genetics, but high-quality genetics in volume and that’s the ticket” says Ty Thompson, cattle sale manager for the combined competitive markets of Billings.

For over 40 years, the Blue Ribbon Stock Cow and Bred Heifer Sales at the Public Auction Yards in Billings have been a trusted source of high quality bred cattle.

“The weather is hampering it not only our weather up here being a lot of winter. But you get to the south country where they can use some cows. There’s been spots that haven’t had moisture for 60, 80 to 100 days so that’s put a little bit of a damper on it. But one of the driving factors is the calf market continues to increase, the fed cattle continue to get higher and that’s pushing these bred cows pretty good," Thompson said.

In addition, he says there are some other things ranchers can do to help their bred cattle bring more money.

“First off that’s the breeding program and that takes not just years but generations. But to enhance the quality of the condition is a big thing. Everyone wants to buy cows that are in good condition. You want to have a shorter calving period. The longer calving periods are getting harder and harder to sell than they used to be,” Thompson said.

Consumers are also doing their part at the meat case.

“The demand side of the beef business is very good. And when you can push the beef business from the demand side, that’s a lot better than having short supply to have a good market. So, if the weather cooperates with us, we’re in for a couple good years but we really need to get thru this winter here and get some moisture in the south,” Thompson said.

A strong cattle market is also good news for rural communities.

“Ag is such an important part of the economy not only in Montana but our entire region.  When the ranchers are prospering and able to do well that trickles down to a lot of other businesses. So, it’s very nice to see you know we’re not as high as we were a couple, three years ago but we’re definitely on the right path and if weather wasn’t hampering us I think we would be higher yet," Thompson said.

Last week at the Cattle Industry Convention in Phoenix, Ariz., Cattle-Fax during their annual market outlook program for 2018 projected the price of bred cattle to range this year between $1,200 and $1,800 with the average price $1,500 per head.

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