MILES CITY, Mont. – The 94th Annual Montana Ram Sale will again take place in its original home at the Eastern Montana Fairgrounds on Sept. 12, 2019. Originally a sale hosted by the Eastern Montana Wool Growers, local businessmen and sheepmen, this event has been going steady for nearly a century and has been under the direction of the Montana Wool Growers Association (MWGA) since 1950.
With a deep history vested in selling and promoting the best range sheep genetics Montana has to offer, this year’s sale will boost an impressive line-up of 280 Targhee, Suffolk, Hampshire, Suffolk/Hampshire cross, Rambouillet and Rambouillet cross rams from 23 different consignors.
Consignors and their rams must meet strict regulations before they are allowed to sell, ensuring potential buyers are getting a quality, sound breeding animal. All consignors must reside in Montana and have been dues-paying members of the MWGA for at least two years prior to the sale. All rams must be bred, born and raised by the consignor as well.
Consignors must first submit a request for entry, which is reviewed by the Ram Sale Committee before the rams are allowed to sell. First-year consignors can only sell five head, but if their stock sells close to or above the sale average, they are allowed to bring more animals to future sales.
“Those rules have been in place for probably 40 or 50 years to help uphold the sale tradition of offering top quality rams,” explained Jesse Thompson, MWGA executive secretary and the Ram Sale manager.
All rams must be inspected by the sale veterinarian prior to the sale. Additionally, sale rams must meet all regulations for interstate travel meaning they must have scrapie tags and test negative for Brucella ovis. Black-faced rams must present a genotype and blood test to the sale veterinarian prior to the sale as well. Further, sale rams must have feet trimmed and they must meet or exceed a list of other physical qualities before being allowed through the ring.
“We hold our consignors to high standards so that we can give our buyers confidence that they are buying a healthy, sound range ram, even if they’re buying sight unseen,” stated Thompson.
The black-faced rams sell first during the sale and they are sold individually. White faced rams are sold a little bit differently. Each single lot is followed by two lots with two head of rams in each lot, usually all from the same consignor. This allows buyers to choose white face rams in lots of one or two head. The average consignment from an individual is around 10 head with the biggest being 36 head and the smallest being 5 head.
When Thompson became Ram Sale manager in 2015, she was able to incorporate social media as a way to promote the sale rams, as a result she feels online watching and online bidding for the sale has increased. In addition, Thompson overhauled the sale catalog and now most rams are listed with a picture and all sale rams have data to accompany their sale listing. Sale catalogs will be available online after the first of September.
“This sale has emerged as a national leader on providing scrapie codon, NSIP data, production records, ribeye scans and micron results so that buyers know exactly what they’re bidding on. There aren’t many that can say that they have a sale that provides the data and genetics that we have provided for several years running now,” explained Thompson.
The majority of rams have been sold to producers in Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming, but that is not always the case. Thompson pointed out that in the past rams have been sold to buyers as far away as Texas, Oregon, Colorado and Washington.
“If you can’t make it to the sale to put your hands on the ram, I want potential buyers to know the rams have all been handled by a lot of people and they have been thoroughly inspected,” Thompson said.
Buyers can pre-register, watch the sale live and bid online at www.FrontierStockyards.com. Registration is also available the day of the sale. For questions about the sale, or to arrange in-state transportation for purchased rams prior to the sale, please reach out to Jesse Thompson at (406) 442-1330, or visit the MWGA website.