HATTIESBURG — Mississippi cattle producers continue to go online to connect with livestock markets throughout the country.
The sixth-annual Mississippi Homeplace Producers’ Sale was broadcast live to viewers across the state and nation Aug. 5 from Southeast Mississippi Livestock in Hattiesburg. Since 2008, the sale has been conducted with the assistance of Mississippi State University’s Extension Service.
“This sale gives Mississippi cattle producers more leverage in the market,” said Brandi Karisch, Extension beef cattle specialist and researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. “They typically get a better price for their cattle in these sales because cattle are offered in uniform load-sized lots, so the work of finding and grouping like cattle together has been done for the buyer.”
The Mississippi Homeplace Producers’ Sale is one of two yearly board sales coordinated by MSU’s Extension Service, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association and Mississippi Beef Cattle Improvement Association. The other similar sale, the Cattlemen’s Exchange Producer Sale, is held in Winona in April.
This year’s Mississippi Homeplace Producers’ Sale placed more than 1,300 head of cattle and brought more than $1.3 million.
From 2008 to 2013, the two sales together have resulted in more than 19,000 cattle sold for more than $15 million.
These sales are different from traditional sales: cattle do not leave the farm until they are ready to be delivered to the buyer. They are filmed on-farm and posted online for preview by prospective buyers. During the sale, producers, buyers and others who are interested can view the sale and cattle videos through a live link on Extension’s website or live on the sale barn’s screen.
Cattle purchased in the sale are grouped into lots of 48,000 pounds. This allows buyers to purchase loads of calves of a similar type and weight at one time, Karisch said.
To participate, producers must be able to make a load either on their own or by grouping their cattle with another producer’s cattle.
“These buyers purchase Mississippi beef cattle all the time, but it might just be a load at a time,” said John Kilgore, representative for Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. “The board sale process makes these sales easier and more economical for both producer and buyer.”
Canton producer Greg Lott has offered cattle for auction in the Mississippi Homeplace Producers’ Sale for three years.
“This sale has allowed me to get a more competitive price on my cattle,” Lott said.
Because the cattle are loaded and hauled fewer times, the cattle are less stressed and their exposure to new environments and diseases in those environments is reduced, Karisch said.
Preparation for the sale takes about four weeks. Area Extension agents and Farm Bureau representatives identify prospective loads and collect their information. The beef Extension specialist then compiles that information into a sale sheet. The Center for Technology Outreach films the loads, edits the videos and posts them to the MSU beef cattle YouTube page for viewing by potential buyers.
“Putting this sale together is an intense process,” said Steve Hankins, Extension distance education coordinator for MSU’s Center for Technology Outreach. “It takes several days to get film of each group of cattle entered in the sale. But editing is the most time-consuming portion. Each one-minute video needs to accurately portray the animals to the buyer so they can make an informed decision.”
While much of the sale can be viewed online, buyers also have a representative on site.
“This type of sale works really well for some buyers and producers,” said Mike Keene, Extension livestock and forages area agent in Forrest County. “It’s really a good educational tool for producers, and a great way for buyers in- and out-of-state to have an opportunity to purchase Mississippi beef cattle easily.”