Riverton Livestock continues to sell, offer quality
Riverton – “This barn started back in the 1940s with a guy name Marion Petch, and he sold cattle, sheep, hogs and horses in the beginning,” says Mel Faucett of Riverton Livestock Auction’s origins. “My dad Maurice and I purchased it in 1964. In 1968 there was a fire, so we rebuilt and that’s the present building today.”
When Faucett and his father purchased the barn it had been closed for a number of years.
“We started in November 1964 and I think for the first sale back we had 1,700 cattle and 1,100 sheep. We used to sell them all in one day. One year we sold 66,000 sheep total, and there aren’t that many sheep in the whole county now,” he adds.
Faucett sold the barn, then bought it back with Warren Thompson in 1983 and ran it for six more years.
“In the mid-1970s Conrad Burns was the manager. From here he went back to Billings, Mont. and started Northern Ag News. He was also a Senator for Montana,” comments Faucett.
“We used to sell several hundred hogs when we first started, but with new government regulations hog numbers went down and we eventually decided to quite selling them.
“In the 1960s and early 1970s I would say half to 60 percent of all feeder cattle stayed right here in the valley, and now I imagine about five percent do. The local farmers used to all feed, and now there are very few who do. Hogs and sheep were the same way – local famers would buy feeder lambs and fatten them, and most would also buy calves and feed them over the winter and sell them again in the spring,” explains Faucett of the history of the barn.
He adds that the barn also used to hold two to three horse sales and run between 100 and 400 through per sale. “There were all kinds of horses, and lots of loose horses that had never been ridden. Anymore, these young horses won’t even bring commission,” he notes.
Today Riverton Livestock primarily markets cattle, with the occasional horse sale. Multiple local seedstock producers also use the barn for their annual sales.
“We market roughly 100,000 cattle annually, and that includes calves, yearlings and cull cows,” says manager Jeff Brown.
“A lot of our cattle will wind up in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and a few go to wheat pasture in Oklahoma. We pull cattle primarily from northwest and southern Wyoming, in roughly a 250-mile trade area,” adds Brown. Cull cows and bulls primarily go to Nebraska for processing.
He notes that one benefit of selling cattle in Wyoming is that the quality of cattle in the area is so superior.
“The altitude and climate here make for very good feeding cattle, and we’re able to see exceptional prices for cattle from this area as a result of that. It’s nice to market a product that comes from a part of the country known for reputation cattle, and that’s a big part of how we’re able to what we do,” explains Brown.
The barn utilizes a variety of technology to provide as many buying and selling opportunities as possible.
“Our weekly auction is broadcast live on the Internet and we also use video sales and forward contracting. We try to facilitate people’s marketing needs and provide options for them. Each week several hundred buyers are involved through the Internet, phone or in the seats,” notes Brown. He adds that on a weekly basis there are typically between 20 and 30 active buyers.
From October through December cull cows and bulls are sold on Monday and calves are sold on Tuesday. The remainder of the year the barn holds a weekly sale on Tuesday.
“We have several bull producers who use our facilities for marketing livestock. Lucky Seven Angus is the largest, and we also have the Northwest Angus Association bull sale here in the spring. Throughout the fall we have multiple calf and yearling specials, too,” explains Brown.
He notes the barn’s facilities can comfortably house between 6,000 and 7,000 head of cattle, and that all hay is purchased locally.
“This brings a lot of revenue into the town and is really a vital part of the community. It’s rewarding to deal with the kind of people you enjoy being around, and we work hard for them because we enjoy it. This is the producers’ market, and we are proud to represent them and their livestock,” notes Brown.