Black Hills Stock Show: Buffalo Classic sale and show is Feb. 6 | TSLN.com

Black Hills Stock Show: Buffalo Classic sale and show is Feb. 6

With the nation’s demand for buffalo increasing, the Dakota Territory Buffalo Association is expecting vigorous bidding for the buffalo offered during the Black Hills Buffalo Classic sale held during the Black Hills Stock Show (BHSS).

The show will be held on Sunday, Feb. 6 at 8 a.m. at the James Kjerstad Events Center at the Central States Fairgrounds. The sale will follow at 10 a.m.

Last year, consignors brought buffalo from North and South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Wisconsin and Indiana. Karen Conley, executive director of the Dakota Territory Buffalo Association, is hopeful all the consignors will participate again. “With the market the way it is, I am hoping for 150 to 200 entries for this year’s show and sale,” she says.

Consignments are required to have a health certificate, and a brucellosis and TB test. Yearlings bulls must be semen checked, and two-year-old bred heifers have to be checked to confirm they are pregnant. Consignors can bring up to two entries per class, but if the class isn’t full, they may be able to bring an additional entry.

During the show, there are single-animal classes for heifer and bull calves, yearling heifers and bulls, and two-year-old bred heifers. They also have a young guns yearling bull challenge class.

Conley says to enter this class, bulls are brought to the BHSS as calves and taken to a ranch in northwestern South Dakota where they are kept together as a group. They are weighed and vaccinated, and put on a set feed schedule. They are weighed before they are turned out to grass for 120 days. At the end of that period, they are weighed and put on 120-day feed test, which ends a week before the next BHSS.

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The data collected is analyzed, and an average daily gain is determined for the period of time they were on grass and on grain. The top performing bulls are promoted as breeding bulls during the sale. Conley says some of the lower-end bulls that didn’t perform as well, but were finished, were sold for their meat and taken to Western Buffalo Company to be processed. Conley says several buyers came to the sale just to purchase buffalo for processing.

In addition to single lots, Conley says they have pen shows, which are gaining in popularity every year. Pen shows are held for bull calves, heifer calves and yearling heifers, with five buffalo per pen.

“The commercial producers particularly like the pen shows because they can come and purchase a pen of five replacement heifers,” she says. “The pen shows are gaining popularity every year.”

Since buffalo are difficult to show, Conley says they are shown in a pen, not by halter, and no fitting is involved. Two judges evaluate the buffalo by moving them from one pen into another and looking at how they move and their conformation.

The buffalo judging takes place at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, followed by the buffalo sale at 10 a.m. “Our buyers are from several states,” Conley says. “We are anticipating an even broader base this year because the buffalo market is really hot right now.”

Conley says the industry, which is relatively small, is in a growth phase. “The market for replacement heifers is really good right now,” she says. “A lot of producers are trying to grow their cow herds. We all know we need to grow our operations to meet the demand for buffalo meat.”

Those interested in becoming involved in buffalo production are encouraged to attend the show and sale to learn more about the industry. “We are also planning a producer’s seminar on Friday, Feb. 4, at the Ramkota Hotel from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Lincoln Room,” Conley says.

The Dakota Territory Buffalo Association’s Winter Conference will be held on Saturday, Feb. 5 in the convention center at the Ramkota Hotel.

For more information, the Dakota Territory Buffalo Association can be reached at 605-923-6383, or on the web at http://dakotabuffalo.com.

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