Custer State Park bison auction indicates herd expansion
CUSTER STATE PARK, SD – Bison herd expansion is underway at full speed, if the dramatically higher prices paid by ranchers at the annual Fall Classic Bison Auction are any indication, according to the Denver-based National Bison Association.
Prices paid for all classes of female bison sold at the Custer State Park Fall Classic auction on Saturday, Nov. 20, were up more than 45 percent from the 2009 sale, and active bidders more than doubled the prices paid for yearling heifers, mature cows and yearling calves over the previous year’s prices. Yearling heifers this year brought an average of $1,640, compared to $822 in 2009. The average price paid for the yearling heifers was $2.79/lb.
The price of heifer calves jumped more than 160 percent over the previous year, with those calves bringing an average of $1,381 compared to $526 in 2009. The calves sold Saturday averaged $4.36/lb.
Yearling bulls averaging $1,465 this year were $538 higher than the previous year, while bull calves averaging $1,238 were $657 higher than in 2009.
The annual Custer State Park auction has long been considered a bellwether indicator of the financial outlook of the North American bison business. Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association, said the prices paid at this year’s auction reflect strong confidence in the future of the bison business.
“The continued growth in bison meat sales is sending a strong signal throughout the entire bison business,” Carter said. “Bison processors are now paying top dollar for quality animals which, in turn, is creating the incentive for ranchers to build their herds.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market News Service, young bison bull carcasses brought an average of $3.17/lb. last month. Prices paid for bull carcasses has increased by 49 percent over the past five years.
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