Our Journey as Producers of Fleckvieh Simmental Cattle.

Red Deer County 2023 Bull Sale Report (and other bull sale season thoughts)

Red Deer County 2023 Bull Sale Report (and other bull sale season thoughts)

It was a gorgeous winter day, with decent temperatures, some sunshine, and not much wind that brought people to the Innisfail Auction Mart to see a diverse, multi-breed bull sale on Saturday, March 11th.  Now in our 3rd year at the Innisfail Auction Market (and 3rd as a multi-breed sale), there was a full house on hand to watch Angus, Polled Hereford, Charolais and Simmental bulls sell.  The cattle markets continue to be very robust, and it was great to see some really impressive bulls, combined with a sense the optimism within the broader agricultural community.

With a multi-breed component now firmly embedded in the Red Deer County Bull Sale, it was the Simmentals turn to wait as the other breeds worked through their sales offerings. When it was time to present the Simmentals,  a feature bull from Keato Meadows made sure that everyone was paying attention.  A dark red, thick, and large capacity bull, Lot 76 – Keato Pld Poetry in Motion 33K was just that, as his arrival lead to some very spirited bidding from notable purebred programs, both in attendance and on the phones.  When the gavel fell, Lot 76 sold for an incredible $37,000 to KSL Simmentals of Beaverlodge, AB – congratulations to Jonathan & Ebony Kittlitz on producing this tremendous high seller!    

From an APLX perspective,  our five bulls that we brought to Innisfail all found great homes.  Unicom Holdings of Crossfield (Blaze), Eagle-Ridge Simmentals of Olds (Casino) and Oh-Kay Farms of Red Deer (Cannon) were all repeat customers of Applecross Genetics, while Ken Bluck of Mountainview, AB (Courage) and Christian Doelger of Beausejour MB (Chevy) both acquired their first bull from us.  It is always a treat to have new customers alongside repeat buyers continue to support our program.  A great day to watch our bulls sell!

Overall the sale grossed just over $536,000 on 65 lots, for an average of $6,797.  We would also be remiss not to recognize Jay Good and the Transcon team for doing a tremendous job working the phones and managing the sale.

Some other thoughts on Red Deer 2023 and this years’ bull sale season:

  • I can’t say enough about how impressive the Keato Meadow string of bulls were. They were penned right beside our bulls, and the amount of consistency in type through-out their string was remarkable. Jonathan & Ebony Kittlitz have been fellow consignors with us in both the Red Deer and Fleckvieh Equation Sales for many years now.  Jonathan has a clear vision of the direction he has taken their program, and it is simply awesome to see them be so successful.  Dark Red, hairy and loaded with performance, while containing different genetics is certainly in demand, and the Keato Meadow program certainly showcased this in 2023!
  • It is always a great feeling when all of our bulls on offer find a great new home.  While two of our bulls failed semen tests and didn’t make the sale, our remaining five bulls sold; four locally and one to Manitoba.  There are simply so many Simmental bulls for sale each spring in Central AB, so we are cognizant that cattle operations have a significant amount of choice.  As it seems more and more breeders are expanding their numbers in the area, we do think this trend will continue.  As a result, we will need to continue to focus on our quality level, while searching for ‘different genetics’ to incorporate into our herd.  Maybe it isn’t a bad thing that our calf crop in 2023 also skewed heavily to heifers!
  • Ensuring our program offers ‘different’, was one of the reasons that BLL Tombstone 223K piqued our interest.   As a rare Great Guns Wyatt son, we were successful in adding him to our bull battery this spring.  Bred by our good friends Stefon & Becca @ Beechinor Land & Livestock,  I was fortunate to see Tombstone on pasture last August.  Not only did he have a little different pedigree, but he also had a lot of eye appeal, strutting his stuff as just a young bull calf on pasture.  We think he’ll add a little different dimension to our bull battery, but also believe his ‘eye appeal’ is a hard trait to quantify.   Everyone’s eye for cattle is different – but Tombstone is definitely a bull that grabbed our attention.   I just like cattle that the eye seems to follow, and then comes back to after viewing the rest of the pasture group – a fairly rare trait that we think we have added with Tombstone!
  • It was also a bit of a surprise that we added Virginia Journey 509K to our bull battery this year.  With limited numbers, we do try to spread out our herd bull purchases over several years, but coming off a very successful December female sale put us in a position where we could re-invest should the opportunities present themselves.  We always go into herd bull shopping season with several options circled, and I have joked in the past that I typically have plans A through E, for what approach we will take with our breeding groups.  This year just happened to be the year that we were able to bring home both the top two bulls on our list!  The adage of ‘always being ready to bid’ (and buy) when desirable herd building genetics are up for auction, certainly came true for us in 2023! 
  • Journey is a really neat bull with lots of potential.  Harry & Michelle Satchwell have a well deserved reputation as having one of the top programs in Canada, and as they also sell in Innisfail, it is rather convenient to stop in for an extensive peek at their bull string.  I spent a fair bit of time Sunday afternoon prior to the Monday sale walking Journey around his pen.  Moderate frame with a lot of mass.  Top and Thickness. Moderate birth weight.  I have shared in the past that part of our breeding philosophy is the conviction that birth weights will continue to moderate (and more horns will come off) the overall cattle population.  The offset to this, is that the breed still needs to retain the performance, growth and maternal mothering ability within the Simmental population.   So a bull with the ‘curve bending’ potential of Journey sure fit the bill!
  • The other neat thing (by design) is that we know the cow families behind both of our new walking bulls extremely well.  Tombstone is backed by the Eagle Ridge Unbelievable cow family; of which we walked a daughter (BEE Vendetta) for quite a number of years (with 3 daughters working here).  Over the years, we have also paid close attention to the Willow’s Jade cow family behind Journey, which included Virginia’s Ms Zillow, who we acquired at Cow-A-Rama 2013!  We do like to stack genetics, and with cow families being so important to our own program, it is not a surprise that we follow those who keep popping up among our fellow breeders!  Consistency, longevity, mothering ability and udder shape – great traits that are carried through the generations!
  • With two new walking bulls, and Battleborn just entering his prime, Double Bar D Confidence will be the ‘odd man out’ in our bull battery this year.  In APLX Coach (his standout son from last year), and his first daughters already in production, Confidence will leave a tremendous legacy here.  We are tentatively set to part with his first daughters at Equation this fall, and it certainly looks like he’ll have a few more sons in next years bull pen.  But for now, he’s busy reminding us that he is available on ‘standby’ if any of our other walking bulls need a hand.

For thirteen years now, it has been great to be part of the Red Deer County Bull Sale.  Public auction is a great forum to get feedback on the program we are building at Applecross.   We strive to produce top quality cattle, and every year provides the opportunity for feedback and ideas on what we could do differently.  Not a year goes by that we don’t learn how to do things a little better for next year, and it is equally important to continue to receive tips and advice on how to make improvements to our program.  

With the bull sale now in the rear-view mirror, and breeding season underway, the breeding groups have finally been decided for the year as the excitement to incorporate new genetics competes with genetic combinations that have worked so well in the past.  We look forward to the challenge of developing more, different and better genetics for future years.

Until next time,



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