Shobe takes over Lewistown Livestock

Shobe family. Photo courtesy Kyle Shobe
Shobe family. Photo courtesy Kyle Shobe

With the best genetics and some of the best grass in the world, Kyle Shobe says central Montana puts out some of the best calves and breeding stock, and now he’s helping market them.

Along with his wife Jodie and four children, Kyle took over ownership of Lewistown Livestock Auction five weeks ago from Lyle and Jan Allen, who owned it for 21 years.

Shobe family – Kyle and Jodie; kids l-r: Hadlee, Tessa, Millie, McKay. Photo courtesy Kyle Shobe
Shobe family. Photo courtesy Kyle Shobe

“The product is there – the quality, the type and kind, the health.” Shobe says cattle in his area are special because they reside in a “hotbed” for seedstock producers. “There are countless Angus, Red Angus, Charolais, Gelbvieh, Simmental, Hereford breeders. All of them right here within a stone’s thow. The genetics in this area have always been strong.”

The environment also plays a role in the quality of the cattle. “This is truly some high quality grass. Great cow/calf country. Central Montana cattle have a reputation because of these things,” he said.

While many Montana cattle are sold private treaty or on video sales, Shobe said some ranchers are moving to the auction barn way.

“Competitive selling is where premium cattle can really bring a premium,” he said, adding that his barn also has outlets for those choosing to sell off the ranch.

The previous owners of the salebarn increased the business significantly – more than doubling the amount of cattle that go through in a year, he said, and he thinks there is room for even more growth.

With about 40,000 head of cattle going through the barn in a year, Lewistown isn’t the biggest market in the country, but it’s an important one, he said. “Our vision is certainly to increase those numbers. We can handle larger numbers,” he said.

Most feeder cattle end up going quite a ways east – to places like Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, or eastern South Dakota, or west to Washington or Idaho, he said. However, some local backgrounders are in the market for calves, too.

The bred cow market is hot in Lewistown as well, producing one of the best bred cow sales in the state in recent years.

The impact that an auction barn has on it’s local community cannot be overstated, said Shobe, and he’s excited to be a part of this.

An auction market in a town of 5,000 people contributes over a million dollars to the community, according to a recent study, said Shobe. “I would say that is probably conservative. In Lewistown, that dollar turns over and over again. Keeping commerce local is a big goal of ours. Whether people are buying a coat, buying insurance, buying bananas, filling with fuel, or going out to eat. We like to give them a reason to come to town and the local businesses give them a reason to stick around.”

With a salebarn that has been in existence since the 1950s, Shobe feels like he’s playing a role in an important historical asset to the ranching community.

As a member of a 7-piece Western band and a long-time auctioneer, Shobe loves the ranching way of life and is pleased with his chance to help keep the heritage alive. He will continue auctioneering purebred sales and working with his family’s auction business as time allows, but will not auctioneer at any auction barns other than Lewistown from this point forward, he said, other than an occasional special sale.

“We love this community. It is such a great place to raise kids. We feel fortunate to live here,” he said.

“We’re excited to carry on the legacy. When the producers win, we all win.”