by Grace Smith
Technology has brought many changes to the agriculture industry and this year it will bring one more change to farmers in North Alabama. Dr. David Evans and John Williams, partners in ownership of the Kilpatrick Stockyard in Dekalb County, are putting a new spin on an old practice for cattle producers in their area.
"With the advancement of the internet and programs like Superior Auction, we have to upgrade our idea of getting large numbers of cattle marketed," Evans said.
What is their upgrade solution? A video auction.
Evan said video equipment has been installed in the sale ring to show cattle that are to be auctioned.
He said video auctions are a relatively new concept and there are few in the state of Alabama. But he felt it is important to be on the cutting edge of this marketing technique.
"These aren’t really common yet, but we feel we need to be on the front end of that technology," Evans said. "It’s a marketing tool people can take advantage of."
He said some farmers are capable of filming footage of their cattle directly on their farm if they have digital camera equipment. But they hope to designate a member of their staff to capture video footage so that footage formats will be uniform and professional.
Evans said most farmers have fewer than 30 head of cattle per herd, but this opens the market to cattle being sold in large groups. He also said he hoped that by offering this service on a local level they can maintain interaction with their customers. He felt by implementing this new program they could reach a larger market area and more feedlots by increased exposures. He hopes it will influence more producers to get involved and therefore reach more buyers.
Cattle sold on the video auction will be sold by 50,000-pound lots and will focus specifically on calves and bred heifers. Although the stockyard draws business from northeast Alabama buyers, this new technology will open bidding opportunities to buyers all over the country.
The stockyard at Kilpatrick, which sells almost 1,100 head of livestock each week, has been in operation over 30 years. Evans said he and his partner, Williams, have been around cattle their whole lives and they believed they could make improvements at the stockyard, so they took over ownership about two years ago.
"We enjoy the cattle business and we felt we could offer new programs to help producers out in the fields," Evans said.
He hopes the new video auction program will be a welcomed addition to an already impressive lineup of sales. The stockyard hosts sales each Wednesday and Saturday, a horse sale the third Thursday night of each month, a bred heifer sale in the fall and a draft horse sale in November.
Evans said there are advantages to selling and purchasing cattle in the traditional auction sales, but this will create a new market for farmers selling large groups of cattle.
"The big advantage of the sale barn is that it is bonded so money is guaranteed for sellers," Evans said. "But the video auction will give farmers the chance to get the maximum amount of money they can and the maximum amount of product they can. We believe farmers can really benefit from that."
Other services provided by the stockyard include hosting liquidation sales, custom hauling and electronic identification tagging.
The Farmers Cooperative has been a part of Evan’s life since he began visiting stores in 1960 with his grandfather. Now the Co-op will aid his new business venture by purchasing advertisements that will help pay video auction expenses. Jason Puckett, manager of the Marshall County Farmers Cooperative in Albertville, said Evans continues to shop at the Co-op buying fertilizer, feed and fencing.
Evans said he and Williams have been working on the new video auction for about seven months and he anticipates that the service should become available within the next month. Video footage will be viewed on the website www.auctions.com
where buyers can place bids on groups of cattle.
Grace Smith is an AFC management services trainee.