Lee Pitts: No Bull
February 3, 2015
Have you attended one of these auctions where bulls are sold in a theater-like setting, displayed on a big screen and aren't run through the ring? It's heresy, I say! Pure laziness!
I think a purebred Brangus breeder in Texas was the first to have the courage to try a bull sale without all the bull, and this past fall more breeders used the format. Ranchers looked at the bulls out in pens before the sale, gathered in a heated building in comfortable chairs, were fed a nice meal, promptly fell asleep with their heads falling into their cake and slept right through the entire sale it was so boring. Just kidding.
There's no reason the concept won't work, after all, ranchers have sold their calves and yearlings in video auctions for decades with good results. Grudgingly, I must say it does make sense. Bulls won't get jostled around and hurt, buyers will be more comfortable and sales will be faster because you don't have to get stubborn animals in and out of a ring. It will also cut down on the number of bidders buying the wrong animal because of all the confusion. But I think the real reason purebred breeders are switching is because they can buy high-def televisions to show the bulls, write off the purchase as a sale expense and the rest of the year they can have a monstrous 72 inch TV in their bathroom. And every other room in their house too
Personally, I'm going to miss all the wrecks and disasters that happened the old way. I can't begin to count the auctions that were interrupted when a gate broke or bulls turned around in the lead up chute and had to be delivered into the ring with a breech delivery. One time the sale was delayed for half an hour because a bull got stuck behind the bull board and we couldn't get him out. One of my favorite disruptions was when an athletic bull managed to jump on the auction block with the auctioneer and sale manager. What a hoot that was!
Auctioneers will like the new format because it will be cleaner and they won't be swallowing big gulps of organic matter because they had their mouth open at the wrong time. There will be no more dust from the sawdust in the ring that can make an auctioneer sound like a five-pack-a-day smoker. I'll probably never again see a Colonel get his lip tore off and two teeth broken when a bull rammed the microphone into his mouth. One of my favorite moments was when a ring man was using a whip and accidentally popped the man with the gavel. (At least I think it was an accident.)
Most auctioneers are very fastidious and I'll never forget the time when the auctioneer got some recycled hay on his expensive hat. He got so flummoxed that he took it off to survey the damage and then put in on backwards. And that's the way it stayed for the rest of the sale! That was almost as funny as the time a big shot in the business sat on the front row at a sale and got plastered with manure and instead of admitting that he made a poor choice of where to sit, he sat there frozen for the rest of the sale because if he moved, liquified grass would drip off the front of his Stetson.
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Ring men will like the new arrangement because they'll be no more breaking their hand when they turn in a bid by flinging their fingers into the sale ring pipes. And their wives will like it a lot because there'll be no more getting stubborn stains out of white shirts.
Other than a free lunch there's no reason now for buyers to show up for a sale when they can watch and bid at home on the internet. What's next, bull sales on eBay?
I suppose I might as well get used to the concept because evidently this is the future: cleaner, faster, safer, more efficient and B-O-R-I-N-G. As for me, call me a purist but I prefer the broken body parts, the danger, the confusion, the wrecks, the manure and the mayhem.