On a rainy day in 1995 at Bill & Kathy’s Restaurant in Dunnigan, California three area cattle ranchers sought the opportunity to start their own bull sale.
“As small operators we were looking for a place to market our bulls,” said Dan O’Connell, who is one of the founding members of the Black Gold Bull Sale.
Nineteen years later, the Black Gold Bull Sale is one of the top bull sales of its kind in the state.
The Black Gold Bull Sale is unlike your traditional cattle auction. Geared towards commercial breeders, the Black Gold Bull Sale provides breeders with the opportunity to purchase top quality seedstock in Angus and Charolais.
Seedstock cattle are typically commercial breeding cattle that are registered with a breed association, and its pedigrees and estimates of genetic merit are well documented.
This year the event is held on, Thursday, September 11, 2014 at the Colusa County Fairgrounds.
Although 9/11 has its significance in the United States, the date gave a memorable moment for O’Connell.
“We all remember the tragedy on 9/11,” he said, “that same year, the day of the sale was the next day,” said O’Connell, “We were unsure if our buyers were going to show up, or how the turnout was going to be; thankfully in the cattle business – business must go on and we had a great turnout.”
O’Connell also added that the during the sale they gave special tribute to those who lost their lives during 9/11, by displaying a special American flag, and his wife Barbara O’Connell sang the national anthem.
With buyers coming from all over the state, the Black Gold Bull Sale is expanding its reach with technology.
“This is the first year we are offering real-time bidding on the Internet,” said O’Connell, “Buyers can see live video of the animals as they bid, which extends the reach of our buyers.”
The 2014 Black Gold Bull Sale includes 100 Angus bulls from three area breeders: O’Connell Ranch of Colusa, Donati Ranch of Oroville, and Wulff Brothers Livestock of Woodland; additionally 12 Charolais Bulls from Broken Box Ranch.
O’Connell commented that due to the drought the number of bulls available at this years sale is down.
“However, it’s going to be a great sale,” said O’Connell.
Williams Cattle Rancher, Jerry Maltby of Broken Box Ranch, has participated with the Black Gold Bull Sale for the last ten years.
“It was simple marketing and a place where smaller breeders can gather and have a big sale,” said Maltby.
Maltby’s father started the family cattle operation back in 1937, running registered Hereford cattle.
In 1962, Maltby was introduced to Charolais where he began his career in producing seedstock bulls for the commercial industry.
Thought the Black Gold Bull Sale is primarily set for commercial breeders, the cattle industry plays an important part in Colusa County’s economic worth.
As the seventh largest farm commodity in Colusa County, the Cattle industry brought in over $15 Million in 2007. Although most of the cattle sales in Colusa County are done through private treaty, buyers at the Black Gold Bull Sale can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $25,000 for one premium bread bull.
Although most of the cattle sold at Black Gold Bull Sale are used for breeding and seedstock, there is a good chance that the offsprings from those bulls could be the beef on our tables, said Maltby.
O’Connel added that although the sale is held one day, it is a week long process of setting up, and tearing down and that their wives play an important part in the sale.
“Our wives are the unsung hero’s of the event,” said O’Connel, “They do a wonderful job providing the lunch and the BBQ the night before – we couldn’t do it without their support!”■