ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Family's annual one-day bull sales takes years to prepare

The Rock Creek Livestock bull sale is an annual, one-day event, but preparation for the Mitchell operation's sale spans nearly two years. On Feb. 23, Kevin Geppert, head of the operation, his son, Weston, and their families will put their years o...

Kevin Geppert herds a calf around its enclosure on Thursday, February 4 at their ranch, Rock Creek Livestock in Mitchell. The ranch is in the process of preparing for their annual bull sale, which will take place on February 23. (Sarah Barclay/Republic)
Kevin Geppert herds a calf around its enclosure on Thursday, February 4 at their ranch, Rock Creek Livestock in Mitchell. The ranch is in the process of preparing for their annual bull sale, which will take place on February 23. (Sarah Barclay/Republic)

The Rock Creek Livestock bull sale is an annual, one-day event, but preparation for the Mitchell operation's sale spans nearly two years.

On Feb. 23, Kevin Geppert, head of the operation, his son, Weston, and their families will put their years of hard work on display for buyers. This year's annual bull sale, which is in its 16th year, will be at 1 p.m. at the Geppers' ranch, which is southwest of Mitchell about two miles.

"It's amazing when you really sit back and think about it," Weston said. "From conception to weaning to feeding, you just sit back and think about it-and if there's something that turns out really good, you think, 'Man, I made that decision dang near two years ago.' I'd say over 75 percent of our bulls for next year's sale are already born."

On the day of the sale, bulls will be on display in a pen at the family's farm south of Mitchell. The Gepperts will be available throughout the morning and early afternoon to answer questions and visit with potential buyers.

At noon, a lunch will be provided, and the sale auction will begin right after lunch, around 1 p.m.

ADVERTISEMENT

Kevin said oftentimes, because of winter weather conditions, buyers don't take the bulls they purchase home that day.

"So, we take care of them until spring, and then deliver them later," Kevin said. "That gives an opportunity to visit with them again and be at their place to see their operation."

The days and weeks leading up to the sale can be stressful, the Gepperts agreed. Kevin referred to the sale as a "nice relief day" after working to put the event together.

Between performing ultrasounds on the cattle, photographing each for a catalog sent out prior to the sale and producing videos of the animals, the hours add up.

"You see the pictures of the animals and the pedigree and all of the numbers. It doesn't just happen," Kevin said. "It takes quite a few different days of the year, different times and different steps to get that all gathered up."

The videos, a new tactic recently adopted by the operation, shows each bull individually. The videos are then edited, proofed and placed on the Rock Creek Livestock website, and are shown at the bull sale, rather than taking each bull through a traditional show ring.

The videos provide an array of benefits.

First, potential buyers are able to see the animals before the sale, rather than just read the measurements and figures listed in the catalog the operation mails out.

ADVERTISEMENT

Additionally, though most of the Gepperts' customers are local, it provides a way for people farther away to participate in the sale. The day of the sale, Weston said, is the business' primary day of income for the year, so if inclement weather arises, it alleviates some stress to know that day is not lost.

"We only have one day of the year-this is our one day-that we're hoping for good weather and for people to be able to make the sale," Kevin added. "In comparison to other businesses where you sell a product every day, a lot of times that's not necessarily the case here. You're putting a lot of your eggs in one basket."

But, even though the videos, catalogue and measurements provided are tools that are made as accurate as possible, Kevin said there's simply no better alternative than a buyer examining a bull in person.

"People can easily get wrapped up in just buying an animal based off of the numbers," he said. "But we always need to keep in mind these are just tools. There's nothing probably better than actually evaluating the animal itself and looking at it yourself and making decisions off of that."

Moreover, the Gepperts view the sale as an annual "reunion" in which they are able to visit with their repeat-buyers, many of which they don't often get to see at other times.
The family-owned and operated businesses also takes the day to reminisce on the help they've received from friends and neighbors over 20-plus years. Occasionally, the sons of some of Rock Creek Livestock's first customers will show up to the sale and buy their own bulls.

"It's been nice over the years as I look back and see how we've grown," Kevin said. "We've gotten more buyers and it's always fun to see your buyers' kids come and buy from you, too."

Related Topics: AGRICULTURE
What To Read Next
Work will begin Thursday
According to the RFP requirements for interested developers’ plans to qualify for the land, the land must begin development within 180 days after the RFP is awarded by the MADC.
“Let’s put this in the rearview mirror,” Sen. Michael Diedrich, a Rapid City Republican said.
Special meeting to cover base bids and alternatives