The Woodward News

June 6, 2013

Livestock auction lends a helping hand

Woodward auction to handle sales while OKC West rebuilds after tornado

Rachael Van Horn
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — After taking a direct hit by the now record-breaking, killer tornado, Oklahoma City West Livestock Market has been offered a soft place to land and get back on its feet.

Beginning this Friday, owner of Woodward Livestock Auction Jerry Nine has extended a hand and his entire facility to OKC West as the auction location for customers of OKC West until they can get back up and running.

According to OKC West manager, Bill Barnhart, Nine's offer is a testament to a level of dedication to others he has rarely seen.

" Jerry, uh wow, he has gone above and beyond more than any other person I know would go," Barnhart said. "Him taking us in and letting us send our customers who need to sell cattle is just, well, he has just been a prince of a guy to work with -  you guys in Woodward are so lucky to have him."

It is unknown how long it might take for OKC West to get back up and running. Damage there included severe damage to the main livestock auction building.

 But for the foreseeable future, the Woodward auction will take on those cattle, sort them, sell them and return those sales commissions right back to OKC West, said Gina Francis, veteran office manager with Woodward Livestock Auction.

If you ask Nine, he'll just shrug off any praise for his kindness.

"I just thought it was the thing to do," he said.

Those OKC West customers who need to sell cattle should call Woodward Livestock Auction and a note that they are OKC West customers will be made on the order to keep the two businesses separated.

Speaking of cattle and markets, it appears feeder steers and heifers are not only holding their price but are coming in $3 to $6 higher this week, according to the Drovers Oklahoma Weekly Cattle Narrative.

According to Nine, the weather played an important role in driving down the feeder market early this year.

With a drought that has drawn on longer than anyone thought, producers have not been able to keep stockers on grass and wheat as long, Nine said. As a result, producers have sold stockers quicker than they would have liked and that sell off pressure reduced the feeder market.

The apparent strength on Friday may signal a resurgence of confidence in the futures, which ran on Friday, Nine said.

"I don't know what drove it really," Nine said. "Maybe people know they are in shorter numbers, then maybe they just let them (feeders) get cheaper than they should have."

That sentiment was mirrored by Cattleman's Choice Feedyard owner Dale Moore. Moore said the feeder market is also being affected by the price of corn as well as larger corporate feedyards who are trying to make a small profit or even break even.

"Corn is gold. It means corporate yards get a little more aggressive when they can make $10.00 ," Moore said. "If you look at the feeder market in the last 60 days, it will be up $5 to down $5 weekly. Buyers sit on their hands till they (feeders) get low enough to fill the order, so they drive it down to a small profit. Then, everyone wants the same one and they drive it up till it's a small loss then we all start over again."

Moore said the reaction of buyers right now is driven by low numbers of available feeder cattle to buy.

"Supplies are tight enough where they jump when they can buy, but stop as soon as they hit the losers."

While drought conditions have played an ominous role over the last two years for cattle owners, especially those west of Woodward in the Slapout, Laverne and Beaver areas, cattle prices have not suffered as much as they could have, Nine said.

"We had rain over east and in some of the surrounding areas and that, really, was our salvation," Nine said. "If it had been dry all around us too, we'd have had nowhere to go with them. We'd a been selling them for what the packer would pay."

With the first appreciable rain in western Oklahoma and the panhandle in the last two days, Nine said some producers might be able to keep cows herds in tact and retain their stockers.

"It will definietely help people," he said.

Woodward Livestock Auction will be closed the whole week of July 4. That includes the sale on July 2 and July 5. The sale will resume normal sales the following week.