By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
More bulls and better prices Saturday at the Tucumcari Bull Test and auction than in past years are a signal that New Mexico ranchers are rebuilding cattle herds as they get relief from more than a decade of drought, according to ranchers and farmers who attended the event.
The New Mexico State University (NMSU) Agricultural Experiment Station at Tucumcari hosted the annual event.
The event included year-old Hereford and Angus bulls that were examined in the morning and then ushered into an auction pen in the agriculture center’s arena to be sold in the afternoon. Buyers and spectators came to the Tucumcari sale from all over the state, and many local farmers and ranchers came to monitor sales and prices.
Angus bulls were sold for an average of $5,500, highest price $9,500, Leonard Lauriault, supervisor of the experiment station said. Of the 58 bulls sold Saturday, 40 were Angus.
Herefords bulls sold for an average of $4,800, highest price $5,500, Lauriault said.
Kevin McCall, chief executive of McCall Land and Cattle Co., Moriarty, said Saturday’s sale was one of the best he had seen in Tucumcari.
“We’ve had good rain and snow,” he said, “and we’re seeing a lot of heifers this year. The herds are coming back.”
Roger Emigh of Dodge City, Kansas, the world-champion auctioneer who conducted the bull sale, also observed that Saturday’s event “was a good sale.”
Weather is a factor, he said, but the market is also seeing “better genetics” in breeding bulls. The prices, he said, were $2,300 to $2,500 better per bull than he has seen in recent years, even though he chided the buyers that the best-rated Angus bull would garner $20,000 at some auctions, as he tried to bring that bull’s price to $10,000.
Philip Box, a Tucumcari farmer who raises feed crops said, “The rain has done good for a lot of folks in a lot of ways.”
For Box, better rain means better crops, and with more cattle, there will be more sales, he said. As crop supplies grow, however, he said, prices may decline.