The cattle industry is guardedly optimistic, and beef steak lovers should be happy, too.
Despite concerns about drought, high inputs and government intrusion, that was the analysis after the Kniebel Cattle Company/ Downey Ranch, Inc., beef cattle seed stock production sale Friday southeast of Manhattan.
“We were really nervous going into the sale, with all of the negatives facing our business,” admitted Barb Downey of the Downey Ranch Angus operation at Wamego.
However, record prices were paid in every division of the sale.
“Cattlemen are concerned about the dilemmas facing their industry, but most aren’t in panic mode yet,” Downey said.
Their tenth annual sale saw Downey’s 42 black Angus bulls sell for a record $4,300 average, compared to $3,825 a year ago.
A record 100 registered bidders from as far as away as Florida, Kentucky, South Dakota and Kansas’ neighboring states contended for the seed stock. Most of the cattle, however, sold locally.
“Many of the buyers were again our neighbors. More than 85 percent of the cattle went to repeat customers, which is extremely gratifying,” Downey said.
Bred heifers have been a unique attraction for the Kniebel/Downey sale and saw record prices as well.
Sixty bred commercial heifers sold for a new high average of $1,880, compared to $1,700 in 2011. These included 30 Angus and Angus cross females from Downey, and 30 Red Angus and red and black baldies from Kniebel.
Downey noted that cattle prices now are comparatively at all-time high levels.
“I really don’t see how over-the-counter beef prices can continue higher, without hindering demand,” Downey said.