Bob Fitzpatrick

Bob Fitzpatrick, of Milan in northwestern Illinois, stands with a bull he sold for $5,000 on Feb. 20 at the Illinois Performance Tested sale, the opening event of the Illinois Beef Expo.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Bob Fitzpatrick of Milan, Illinois, has consigned bulls to sell at the Illinois Beef Expo in Springfield for almost 20 years.

This year, two of his three Haven Hill Simmentals sold for $5,000 and one for $4,500 at the at the Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield Feb. 20. All three of his bulls topped the average price of 17 Simmentals sold, which was $4,182.

Fitzpatrick wasn’t the only one pleased with sale prices this year. It was a record-breaking sale with the highest average yet, said Travis Meteer, Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale manager who also works for University of Illinois Extension. Of 37 lots, the sale averaged $4,206.

The total number of animals in the sale was a little fewer this year because of a number of factors, Meteer said. One consigner had an injury and wasn’t able to bring bulls, a few bulls weren’t docile enough to show and some didn’t meet the stringent rules for the sale.

“The bulls we did have were exceptional,” he said.

The highest-indexing Angus bull sold for $12,500.

“That’s a new sale record. It’s the highest price we’ve had,” Meteer said.

The bull, MG Patriot 14G, was sold by Murphy’s Genetics LLP of Illiopolis, Illinois, to Grimmius Cattle Company of Hanford, California. It earned well above the average of $4,280 among the 18 Angus bulls at the sale.

A Simmental bull got the second highest price at the sale this year. Consigned by Rincker Simmentals of Shelbyville, Illinois, it sold for $7,000 to Wildberry Farms of Scales Mound, Illinois.

Keith and Brady Kramer of Kramer Farms, Farina, Illinois, consigned an Angus yearling bull that was the third highest-selling bull at $6,500. It sold to Chris Bruns of Carthage, Illinois.

The highest-selling Hereford bull, which was consigned by Rabideau Polled Herefords of Clifton, Illinois, left the ring at a price of $4,500.

Fitzpatrick, a Rock Island County beef producer, was impressed with the prices and with the college students who help facilitate the show.

“I’ve seen them other years working with their teachers learning economic lessons,” he said.

This year he watched as John Wood Community College animal evaluation students made sure bulls got into the ring and back out in the right direction.

The atmosphere at the sale was mixed. This is the second year there have been high hay prices and hay shortages. It was a tough year for getting corn and soybeans planted and harvested as well.

“These production challenges are real. It’s a hurdle cattlemen are dealing with,” Meteer said.

At the same time, farmers are eternally optimistic, he said.

“Calving season is upon us. New genetics are coming. Breeders soon get to see the decisions they made last year come true,” Meteer said.

The excitement of the new season was also clear among 4-H members and junior showman who kick off the season at the Beef Expo as well.

Find more information on the sale online at www.IPTBullSale.com.

Phyllis Coulter is Northern Illinois field editor, writing for Illinois Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today.