Recent History – 1999
Sept. 2, 1999
By Kate O’Neill for the Peace River Block News
Peace region sheep producers are gearing up for their annual fall sale. Last year’s record sale of 5,200 sheep was the biggest sale in Western Canada, so local producers have their work cut out for them if they want to surpass that result.
To avoid congestion at the sixth annual sheep Sale, at the Peace Country Livestock Auction in Dawson Creek, Sept. 18, some of the sheep won’t be actually present at the auction. Large lots of sheep will be video-taped and weighed by Alberta sheep specialist Trevor Jones beforehand and buyers can bid on it this way. This will also save shipping costs for the producers, especially those who have to travel farther to the auction.
Another new event at the sale will be a competition pen of five ewe lambs. These are first-time lambers and meant for the experienced breeder. Another pen of five mature ewes will provide an opportunity for beginners interested in raising lambs for the first time.
The rule is, they have to be sold. First prize is $500, second prize is $200 and third prize is $100.
There’s no doubt the industry has been growing, says event organizer Nancy Peterson. In the past, producers didn’t have a market for everything, but now numbers have increased, a large portion of the B.C. Peace sheep is being sold to buyers who take them and fatten them for sale to other markets.
“You need to be where buyers and processors are in order to access the market directly,” Peterson says. “We’re still a long way from the markets and freight is expensive. A lot of the buyers have markets we don’t.”
The annual sheep sale was started six years ago to provide small producers with a market for their lambs. Depending on each producer’s lambing schedule, there are many who will have sold their lambs before September and the larger producers with 500 to 700 head contact the buyers directly.
Last year’s sale drew buyers from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and Peterson says more buyers makes competition even keener.
Even though it’s the largest sale in Western Canada, Peterson says, it’s still a friendly event because the local producers volunteer at the sale to do everything except the auctioning itself. This also puts a considerable amount of money back into the region instead of in commissions.
The sale is also the time to support local 4-H clubs by buying a lamb from them.