Video auction service boosts cattle marketing

Marketing through video sales has opened new opportunities for cattle buyers and sellers.

One of the innovators is Joplin Regional Stockyards, Carthage, Missouri, through its Prime Time Livestock video service, which was the result of wanting help customers, said Jackie Moore, co-owner of Joplin Regional Stockyards and a co-owner in the Prime Time service with his two sons. Moore has been involved in the livestock marketing business his entire life.

Helping customers with new ideas to market their cattle has always driven him, as an example, 10 to 15 years ago when the nation’s cowherd was smaller he felt strongly about the need to utilize the pastures in their region.

“We started a background program to help those producers. They could buy and background them and then sell them,” Moore said. “We went to work with customers and bankers to help producers to use their resources.”

Zoetis livestock and cattle representative Ed Trotter also remembered that time and said it was a natural extension of today’s Prime Time service. Trotter has been involved in the cattle business for 30 years and he appreciates the commitment Moore has made to the cattle industry.

“The relationship with Prime Time Video actually started with Joplin Regional Stockyards about 15 years ago and a meeting Jackie and I hosted for his customer buyers. The feeder and stocker operators wanted to better identify what they wanted so they could sell more cattle in this part of the country,” Trotter said. “We learned they wanted value-added or vaccinated weaned calves and we started our select program. At the meeting Jackie made the decision to have a select program at Joplin. At the same time we developed our own select program with Zoetis and others.”

It was a natural fit for Zoetis’ customers to continue the relationship with Joplin Stockyards for their cattle marketing activities and also to customers who have stocker backgrounders and cow-calf operators, he said.

That relationship helped farmers and ranchers in that region with new opportunities, Trotter said. The Prime Time Video continues a successful investment in the cattle business to help customers by Joplin and Zoetis, he said. Prime Time is a natural progression, Trotter said, who called it a historic milestone for the four-state area.

Casino site

The video auction started with “The Big Bang!” marketing event on July 3 at the Downstream Casino, Quapaw, Oklahoma.

The video auction business has grown the past 15 years, Moore said.

“My boys are pushing the Prime Time video and I’m pushing it. We’ll market 150,000 to 200,000 cattle a year that way. It works well for us and it works well for our customers.”

One of Moore’s customers likes the additional exposure. Bill Crain started selling bulls about 20 years ago with Moore.

Crain backgrounds cattle with an estimated five or six potloads a year and he also has a cow-calf operation. “I like to sell on the video. I like the stability of the market. You know what you get for your cattle. You know what you have in your cattle when it is time to sell them. The bankers are going to like it.”

Crain said lenders and producers can sit down together and figure out profit objectives.

Helps buyers, sellers

Order buyer Wes Spinks regularly attends Joplin Stockyards’ Monday sales and watches the video sales. The video sale can help producers who have cattle in the country receive an offer then they can take cattle directly to a feedlot.

The cattle are raised together and they stay together and that helps in the safety and care of the animals.

Sign up for HPJ Insights

Our weekly newsletter delivers the latest news straight to your inbox including breaking news, our exclusive columns and much more.

One of the biggest pluses for the Prime Time service, he said, is producers are getting additional buyers competing in an auction setting.

“From a seller’s standpoint it helps the buyer and from a buyer perspective you are seeing 35,000 head at a time,” Spinks said. “As people get bigger you’ll see bigger lots. The first video sale was 15 to 20 years ago. It just got bigger every year and I cannot imagine it ever going away.

If successful, he sees the operation going into pure-bred sales, bull sales or female sales.

New opportunities

Brittni Bates, regional sales representative with DVA Auction, Norfolk, Nebraska, which helps provide internet broadcasting services, said her firm’s primary customers are registered breeders.

“Combining all of our viewers you get that much more exposure for advertising for your barn, for your sale and for your ranch,” she said.

Bates said her firm’s role is to provide another marketing tool for those in the cattle business and expands the opportunities for all parties.

“Like anything else in the ag industry ‘you cannot put all your eggs in one basket,’” she said. “What we do is allow producers from all across the country to buy cattle online. They are not out of the expense of traveling. They can watch the sale, buy the cattle and go back to driving the tractor.”

Nationwide competition

Colby Flatt, video sales manager with Prime Time, said the decision to expand not only helps customers at a regional level but allows Joplin and Prime Time to compete nationwide. The current trade territory includes Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and also reaches into Florida. They have representatives in those regions with the emphasis on expanding video sales.

“I think the biggest part to the producer we can save them on their shrink and we can get more for their cattle on the farm and ranch,” he said. “It will save some freight. The freight will be on the buyer and it gives them more exposure nationwide through our video marketing program.

“With this venue we spurred some interest from the buyer end so I think we’ll see true price discovery for the producer,” Flatt said. “In return we hope the producer gets a premium on the cattle.”

Moore said cattle producers are resourceful and they are eager to embrace new technology and build relationships with customers and that is a formula that is timeless.

“It’s really about people doing business with people,” he said. “We know how to market the cattle and know how the auction business is and how to take it to the next level.”

The operation today backgrounds 70,000 cattle a year and sells about 450,000 cattle a year.

Inviting atmosphere

The July sale at a casino also opened a new door for customers to see the innovation in a relaxing atmosphere.

“We have to ease it along and see where it takes us. We know the sky is the limit. Will we have another one here? Probably. Will we have it in another state? Probably.”

Mostly the next level will continue to learn and grow.

Flatt liked the inviting atmosphere for the video auction that allows Joplin to reach out to new customers.

“We would like to have this on a regional basis whether in Okeechobee, Florida, Georgia or Texas. That’s something we’ll look at as we grow,” Flatt said. “We want the folks up there to keep Primetime Livestock in the back of their minds for their marketing. We are the new kid on the block and we’d love to earn their business.”

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].