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SD Sheep Growers’ Association Premium Yearling Ewe Sale

Ruth Wiechmann
for Tri-State Livestock News
Interest was strong at the 2020 SDSG Premium Yearling Ewe Sale in spite of current market conditions. The number of bidders at the sale was up exponentially from 2019 and the average sale price increased by over $35/head. Photo courtesy South Dakota Sheep Growers Association
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The South Dakota Sheep Growers’ Association (SDSGA) held their third annual Premium Yearling Ewe Sale on Saturday, July 25, 2020 at Magness Livestock Auction in Huron, South Dakota. In spite of the challenges of Covid-19, buyers showed up in record numbers. Sixty-one registered bidders were present and another twelve people registered to bid online.

Sixteen consignors brought four hundred eighty-five yearling ewes representing the best of western genetics to Huron.

“Our goal with this sale is to meet the needs of smaller sheep growers in eastern South Dakota and the surrounding areas,” said Lisa Surber, SDSGA Executive Secretary. “We are offering select groups of premium quality yearling ewes to producers wanting to improve their flocks.”

Ewes sold in lots of five to fifty with varying increments in between. The high selling registered lot of five Targhee ewes went to Bruchan and Bremer, Fairmont, Minnesota, for $475/head and was part of the consignment from Kopren Targhee, Bison, South Dakota. The high selling commercial spot was a tie for three lots of mixed ewes: a lot of ten consigned by Lisa Dennert from Frederick, South Dakota, was purchased by Doug Ehlers, Morris, Minnesota, for $425/head; a lot of five consigned by Tom Dagel, Watertown, South Dakota, and another lot of five consigned by Burton Anderson of Highmore, South Dakota, were both purchased by Jeff and Kate Frederick.

The average sale price was $328.09/head which was up from last year’s average of $294/head. The sheep sold to six states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Idaho.

“Last year we sold one lot online,” Surber said. “This year we had twelve registered bidders online and sold five lots to online buyers. This was a huge increase.”

The rise in online bidding may have been due to Covid-19, but with the number of in-person bidders almost double from last year it seems likely that it was largely due to an increased interest in the sheep offered.

Some changes to the sale program were made thanks to Covid-19; no educational program was on the agenda for this year, and the caterer made boxed lunches instead of serving the attendees through a line. Lamb was still the item of choice on the menu, though!

Now in its third year also, the Youth Buyer Credit Program received strong support at the sale. Tommy and Laura Mills of Deaver, Wyoming, donated a yearling ewe for a rollover auction to generate funds for the program. This beautiful ewe garnered over $1,300 for a great cause! Aubrey Underwood was the 2020 SDSGA Youth Buyer Credit winner; after she collected her check proved herself a savvy bidder. She and her family purchased fifteen ewes consigned by Tom Dagel.

“We’ve seen a tremendous interest in premium genetics,” Surber said. “We are gearing this sale toward growers with smaller flocks who can market their lambs more strategically than the larger producers in western areas. Even given the current market constraints people still see the value of investing in good genetics. Thank you to all the generous buyers who supported the Youth program. We are part of an amazing industry!”


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