Bulls on the block

Average price at 68th Annual Ocala Bull Sale nears $4,000

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Posted October 17, 2023 | By Andy Fillmore/andy@ocalagazette.com
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

The 68th annual Ocala Bull Sale, touted as the nation’s oldest continuous graded bull sale, saw cattle producers from six southeastern states sell 65 bulls to 35 Florida-based buyers in a roughly two-hour fast-paced auction.

The sale, held Tuesday at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion in Ocala, is sponsored by the Marion County Cattlemen’s Association. The average bull sale price was $3,927, according to Wayne Brown, a member of the sale’s board of directors. Sales manager Sammie Albritton said the sale prices ranged from $2,400 to $7,900, with a Charolais bull the top seller. 

Before the auction began, buyers studied bulls in stalls inside the Dave Baillie, Jr. Arena at the SELP and considered breeds including Angus, Braford, Brangus, Brahman, Charolais, Charolais Cross, Hereford, Horned Hereford, Red Angus and Ultrablack.  

Buyers looked at genetic information, body definition and more.

The bulls, typically weighing 1,200-1,900 pounds, were graded before the sale on an “A, B, C“ scholastic-type scale by a panel of four cattlemen and a University of Florida professor. Each bull entered must have an inspection certificate from a veterinarian certifying good health according to the terms of sale, and the sale catalog lists comparison generic information within breed on each bull entered.

The sale entries have a semen check 30 days before the sale to be sure the bull can impregnate cows during the mating season, which starts in January. 

Albritton said the Ocala Bull Sale was started by Earl Ellis of Commercial Bank, who wanted to gather and offer “the best” bulls from several states. Albritton said a “veterinarian makes the final decision” if there are any health-related issues, such as a leg concern, with a bull.

Hugh Dailey, a longtime Ocala Bull Sale participant, said factors to consider when purchasing a breeding bull include muscles and birthweight, and a “progressive rancher” makes the necessary inquires with a veterinarian. 

Jason Conrad, general manager of Weeping Creek Ranches in Dover, Florida, served as an auction ringman, spotting and relaying incoming bids to the auctioneer. 

Conrad commented on the “important role” bulls play in operating a commercial cattle producing operation. 

David Stephens, a member of the sale’s board of directors, helped move the bulls through metal gates with long wands onto the buyers’ vans and trailers after the sale. 

“(The bulls) have a mind of their own, (but) they’re ready to breed,” he said. 

Stephens said the bulls were largely calm during the sale with minor dust-ups by perhaps a bull or two. 

Jim Peebles of Ocala, who has a cattle-producing farm here, purchased a Charolais Cross breed bull entered by Triple B Charolais of Lebanon, Tennessee.

“I’ll put the bull out with the cows in February,” Peebles said about his plan to breed with his new bull. He said he may also try to produce some “show cattle” for his six grandchildren who attended the sale.

Jonny Harris, owner of Greenview Farms in Jessup, Georgia, has participated in the Ocala Bull Sale for over 30 years. He sold all eight Braford and Hereford breed bulls he and his wife, Toni, bought to the sale. High sale within his lot was $4,400.

“Ocala has been good to me,” he said after his last bull was auctioned off.

Amelia Carreno of Red American Cattle, in Alachua, purchased four bulls. 

The redamericancattle.com website states through cross-breeding practices, farm operators  “can generate animals that are tolerant to heat, have high levels of resistance to insects, are docile, are larger and stronger and have the desired maternal qualities.”

Gay Perry Hatcher of Perry Cattle and Hay in Belleview came to the sale with her daughter Allison and niece Nichole. Juddy Perry, Gay Perry Hatcher’s father, founded the cattle and hay company in 1955. The women came to look over the bulls for use in breeding at their commercial cattle farm and have purchased at previous Ocala Bull Sale sessions.

Travis Teuton of Anthony came to the sale with his sons Dakota Ketchum, Cory Ketchum and Luke Teuton.

Travis Teuton said he would pursue a bull that looks good, for example, depth in the rib area, and has good genetic characteristics. 

Julie Upton, with the Marion County Cattlewomen’s Association, said a Scholarship Cake Auction held just before the bull sale raised $3,350 for student scholarships with the sale of 11 cakes. 

Auctioneer Owen Chad “Cracker” Johnson said with multiple breeds handled at the sale “every bull is different” and keeping the pace of the sale moving can be a challenge.

“Angus and Charolais (breeds) were strongest (this year in the sale),” he said. 

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