BILLINGS, Mont. – Originally created as a way to add a live animal component to the Montana Agri-Trade Exposition (MATE), the Bull Pen Preview has since evolved into a great marketing and promotional tool for area bull breeders. Producers bring their top bulls to town and display them. Fellow cattlemen can either purchase the bulls outright or gain more information about the breeder’s program and upcoming production sales.
Presented by the Northern Ag Network and designed to look like the cow shows of old, bulls will be displayed loose and in pens outside the Expo Center at Billings’ MetraPark. Pens will be offered in two sizes: a 12-foot x 12-foot pen will comfortably house three bulls, while a bigger 12-foot x 24-foot pen will fit upwards of six bulls. Pen sizes are ideal for yearling bulls, though older bulls and herd bulls will be allowed at the show as long as they are used to such a busy setting.
Bulls will be on display all three days of the MATE. Pens will be available as early as Thursday morning and bulls can remain on display until noon on Saturday.
“This year you’re going to be looking at breeds from Angus to Red Angus and Hereford, as well as Charolais and Galloway,” explained Shelby Shaw, coordinator for the Bull Pen Preview.
As of print, the Bull Pen Preview had 14 confirmed exhibitors which include: ADM Red Angus, Sanders, Mont.; Bar Star Cattle, Musselshell, Mont.; Berst Angus Ranch, Billings, Mont.; Belgen Galloways, Roundup, Mont.; Frank Herefords, Absarokee, Mont.; L Bar W Cattle Company, Absarokee, Mont.; Lost Creek Red Angus, Molt, Mont.; Redland Red Angus, Hysham, Mont.; Reisig Cattle, Hardin, Mont.; Shepherd Red Angus, Cody, Wyo.; and Sidwell Ranch, Columbus, Mont.
The list of those displaying bulls at this year’s Bull Pen Preview contain a mix of veteran exhibitors and those who will be bringing bulls to town for the first time. Either way, visitors of the MATE will not be disappointed. Discussion about a good quality bull or breeding program over a steaming cup of hot coffee is what built the west.
As Shaw points out, the Bull Pen Preview is about more than cattlemen displaying their bulls to other cattleman because there is an educational component, as well.
“This is a great opportunity for people who live in town to come out and actually talk to producers about the beef industry. Mainly on Saturday, these exhibitors will see families and kids that don’t get to be up and personal with livestock,” Shaw said.
Passers-by and visitors of the MATE will have the opportunity to vote on the “People’s Choice Award” for the best Bull Pen display, adding some friendly competition to the event. Additionally, visitors will be encouraged to sign up for a drawing and a chance to win one of two $300 gift certificates that can go toward the purchase of a bull from any breeder displaying in the Bull Pen Preview.
“We invite everyone to come down to the MATE to walk through all the exhibits and maybe purchase a bull or two,” Shaw added.
Whether you are in the market for a new bull or want to learn more about the area’s vast seedstock industry, mark your calendars for the 2020 MATE Show, Feb. 20-22. The Bull Pen Preview will be a display you won’t want to miss.