Pandemic Impacts Jersey Auction Average for 2020

Nothing about 2020 was routine or normal, including the way cattle were bought and sold at public auction and the prices paid for Registered Jersey genetics. Just a single consignment sale that offered Jerseys was conducted in mid-March before most auction rings were shut down for quarantine. Over the next three months, four sales were held―three of them as virtual events. By the end of the second quarter 2020, just 235 lots of Registered Jerseys had been reported sold  at public auction to the Jersey Journal. Cattle sales returned with a vengeance in the fall as venues began opening doors again and the world learned how to carry out business with safety measures in place. In September, October, and November, more than 1,200 Registered Jerseys sold through eight consignment sales and a pair of dispersals.

2020 Auction Sale Summary
487 Cows, two years and over $1,548.36 $754,050
4 calves under three months, sold with dam $750.00 $3,000
565 Bred heifers $1,149.38 $649,400
318 3rd trimester bred heifers $1,150.86 $365,975
145 2nd trimester bred heifers $1,148.10 $166,950
102 1st trimester bred heifers $1,146.57 $116,950
70 Open yearlings $1,270.36 $88,925
326 Heifer calves $1,999.86 $651,955
4 Bulls $35,512.50 $142,050
3 Embryos or flush packages $4,000.00 $12,000
12 Choices of calves $4,241.67 $50,900
1 Right to flush $5,900.00 $5,900
1,468 Lots $1,606.39 $2,358,180

So, what is in the Jersey breed’s rear-view mirror for public auctions in 2020―the year of the notorious COVID-19 quarantine? In all, 1,468 head sold at 16 public auctions for an average of $1,606.39 and gross receipts of $2,358,180. The average is as low as it has been since 2009 and 2011, when Registered Jerseys sold for $1,626.81 and $1,590.28, respectively. Though the total lots sold is low too, it is on par with recent years given the shortened sale season. Most recently, 2,409 head sold in 2019 and 2,525 in 2018.

Ahlem Pine Diamond 57049 became the high-selling female of the year in November when she crossed the auction block at The All American Jersey Sale for $46,500. She was purchased by Bos Dairy and Vierra Dairy, represented by Isaak Bos and Mark Brindeiro, left, and consigned by Ahlem Farms Partnership, represented by Jonathan Merriam, center. The All American Jersey Sale ranked second for average and gross for 2020 and was the venue for four of the 12 high-selling individuals.

Though some aspects of the cattle marketing world changed in 2020, others did not. The prices paid for super elite genetics and commercial cattle continued trends of recent years. At three of the Jersey breed’s elite sales―The All American Jersey Sale, the National Heifer Sale and the Top of the World Sale―six high genomic heifer calves were struck off for more than $21,000 each. The National Heifer Sale posted a new series high average of $10,996.88 despite the pandemic. The year’s high selling individual, BW Graduate, was syndicated at The All American Jersey Sale for $90,000 and another homozygous polled bull, JX Hawarden Lazer {5}-PP, was syndicated at The Polled Power Sale for $51,000. Premium prices were also offered for elite genomics in less-traditional lots at the Top of the World, with an embryo package selling for $9,625 and a right to flush bringing $5,900. Genetics that could fare well in the show ring brought top dollar in 2020 as well.

As usual, buyers showed their appreciation for deep pedigrees and cattle effectively managed with sustained use of programs from the American Jersey Cattle Association. Examples of this include the Normandell Dispersal, which averaged $1,611.08 on 79 head, and the Clover Patch Cornucopia IV, which averaged $1,059.77 on 217 lots, nearly half of them heifer calves. Demand for cattle offered in the Clover Patch sale also showed growing interest in niche markets, like the A2/A2 gene for beta casein.

The year’s high-selling cow, River Valley HLH VIP Misguided, sold through Franchise Goes West for $24,000 to Blue Diamond Jerseys. She was consigned by Hannah Hurst, David Jordan and sale manager Dusty Schirm, fifth left. Franchise Goes West was the third high-averaging sale of 2020, with a posted average of $5,412.50 on 40 lots.

Perhaps as much as anything, the pandemic made short order of trends that have been happening in cattle merchandising circles for several years. Online opportunities are becoming the norm to save on trucking, housing, and health testing costs and for the sake of efficiency. As well, fewer animals are heading to consignment sales as the use of sexed semen becomes widespread along with the practice of breeding lower-end females to beef bulls. Only time will reveal how much “normal” returns to the cattle marketing world in 2021 and beyond.

The 16 public auctions included in the sales analysis were held in the United States during the calendar year 2020 and submitted to the Jersey Journal by January 4, 2021. Only sales reported with complete catalogs and marked with buyers and prices for all animals are included. Sales with fewer than 10 head are included in the summary, but not ranked among the high-averaging sales. Animals that sold in sales with fewer than 10 head, though, are included in the high selling individuals.

To read the entire analysis, read the February issue of the Jersey Journal or click here to view the article as a PDF file. The article also includes a listing of the year’s high-selling individuals and high-averaging and high-grossing sales.

AJ Chief 4611 paced the virtual National Heifer Sale to a record-setting average of $10,996.88 on 16 lots. The four-month-old heifer calf sold for $42,000 to Sexing Technologies, represented by AJCA-NAJ Area Representative Erica Davis, right. She was consigned by Albright Jerseys, represented by Joel, Mary Beth and Lauren Albright, left. The National Heifer Sale was the high-averaging sale for the second consecutive year. Chris Hill, second right, was the auctioneer and JMS Manager Greg Lavan, back, read pedigrees.