Written By:
Quinn Campbell GlobalNews.ca

WATCH ABOVE: With the market still hot, one southern Alberta auction market is filling the demand for cattle with the click of a mouse. Global’s Quinn Campbell reports.

LETHBRIDGE- It’s not your usual online purchase: the Southern Alberta Livestock Exchange said the largest one-day auction they’ve ever held ended in 30,000 calves sold–without ever running through a sale ring.

“It’s not a smelly cattle auction sale; we are at the Lethbridge Lodge and it’s a different deal than it was two years ago,” said Justin Keeley, general manager for the Southern Alberta Livestock Exchange, known as S.A.L.E.

“We like having cattle in the ring but this is what we feel we need to do to compete on the same level with everybody, you know the Balog’s, the Perlich’s, guys like that,” said Keeley.

“You need to have an opportunity to sell directly from home.”

Raymond and Dean Rhodes own a cow-calf operation. They took part in the first video auction put on by S.A.L.E. several years ago, and have been repeat customers ever since.

“This way if we aren’t satisfied with what they bring, they are still at home on the cow,” said Dean Rhodes.

The cattle are sold in real time online, but Keeley said each bid is made in person or over the phone.

The online auction isn’t just beneficial to buyers; sellers like the Rhodes said it results in less stress for owners and their animals.

“Convenience for us–as far as gathering, or whether the weather is bad–you aren’t worrying about getting cattle out on a stormy day and the roads are bad. You’ve got more flexibility for one thing and less stress on the cattle is a huge thing.”

Keeley said with calves selling at an average of $1,600 each, about $50 million will exchange hands–without a single animal coming to town.

“They watch the sale online, and there are in-house buyers here today, but we want the buyers to phone and talk to one of our representatives. It keeps open lines of communication and more of the auction atmosphere, and the auction or in the ring–that’s true price discovery,” added Keeley.