An easy sell: Black Hills Stock Show and Sales a good fit for purebred breeders
Purebred producers today have many options to market their cattle – production sales, online auctions, private treaty and more. Where and how the bull gets traded depends on the situation. However, for many breeders in the Midwest, the Black Hills Stock Show and Sale are a perfect fit for promoting and marketing their genetics.
Throughout the duration of the Black Hills Stock Show,10 breeds of bulls, heifers and bred heifers compete in individual shows, followed by their respective sales. The grand champion bull and heifer of each breed stand on Hubbard Feeds Supreme Row, with an all-breed competition at the end of the Black Hills Stock Show.
For Brandon Bertsche and his wife, Sasha, owners of Bertsche Cattle in Onida, S.D., the BHSS is more than just a cattle show, it’s the start of their story.
Brandon started coming to the show with his dad 20 years ago as a teenager. He and Sasha met at the BHSS in 2010, got married in 2011 and started their family in 2013. Their son Briggston is 5 and daughter Bevin is 4. Although the Bertsches are still building their own herd, Brandon says he has been around the business since he was born, and he showed his first heifer when he was 4 years old. “I’ve been hooked ever since,” he says.
Together they started their own herd in 2015, selecting lots off the Thomas Ranch dispersal (near Harrold, S.D.) and showed their own cattle for the first time in 2017. “Our focus since the start has been to produce sound, highly functional cattle with a tremendous amount of eye appeal,” says Bertsche. “Cattle that can show at a national level and still produce offspring with growth and performance to work in commercial herds and purebred herds alike.”
This year marks the third year they have been showing their own stock, including Charolais, Hereford and Red Angus, at the BHSS.
“We feel the Black Hills Stock Show is the premier stock show in the country,” says Brandon. “It brings in the best cattlemen from all over the west and Midwest to showcase, compete and sell their best cattle. Many of them are sold to purebred herds as well as to some of the most successful commercial herdsmen.”
Last year the Bertsches were awarded grand champion Charolais bull at the show where it all began for them. Their bull BRCHE Raising Cane 7501 sold for $13,500 to Cheyenne Charolais of Wasta, S.D.
Joel Deering is the owner of Cheyenne Charolais, an historic ranch along the Cheyenne River that has been in his family for five generations. He took over operations in 1987, and runs it with the help of his wife, Kandi, and their six kids.
Deering is noted for raising his hand at the Black Hills Stock Show Charolais sale. He purchased the grand champion Charolais bull in 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2018, and the reserve champion in 2014 and 2015. Deering says his normal mode of operation is to go the day before the show to evaluate bulls and talk to breeders. Once he has his top purchase picked out, the fact that it goes first or second place is because “I get lucky that the judge agreed with me,” he says. Deering’s evaluation factors include bloodline, birth and weaning weight, and disposition. Deering says he doesn’t always “purchase the grand,” but only one time in the last eight years he didn’t get his first selection bought. “It’s great if a bull I select goes on to win – because I’ll probably try a little harder to get him bought in the sale to get the title that goes along with him,” Deering says.
“The BHSS has a great reputation and I think the breeders that consign to it strive to bring their best,” he says. “Many are smaller breeders, but they are really on the leading edge of Charolais genetics.” Deering says the quality of cattle has improved greatly over the years because of the efforts of these breeders – many of whom have been coming to the BHSS for 20 to 30 years.
“It’s a prestigious show to win and there are always several families ‘in the hunt’ to win. The competitiveness and the ability of the showmen and women is really fun to watch.”
A large percentage of the herd bulls at Cheyenne Charolais purchased in the last 10 years have come from the Black Hills Stock Show sale. “I feel our BHSS purchases have advanced our herd greatly in terms of quality and overall eye-appeal,” he says, “and we certainly look to continue our relationship with the Stock Show and its consignors.
“My goals for the future are to keep producing good Charolais bulls and Charolais-cross feeder cattle until I get too old to cut the mustard, I guess,” says Deering. “Then it’ll hopefully work out for one of the younger generation to try their hand in the challenging world of running cattle ‘on the River.’”
For Brandon Bertsche, showing cattle also involves looking at progeny – and not just the four-legged variety.
“My main goal when starting our herd was to be able to raise my kids the same way I was raised, in the best industry in the country,” Bertsche says. Briggston Bertsche recently showed his heifer, Baby Dottie, for the first time at the Jordan Mack Memorial Calf in Waterton, S.D. and was selected champion Charolais heifer and fifth in overall breeds. “He had a blast and has a passion for those cattle, even more than I remember having at that age,” says Brandon. “And Bevin is patiently waiting for her first chance in the ring.”
As both families continue to build their legacies for the next generation, good cattle and the Black Hills Stock Show will continue to play a leading role.
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