After 65 years of holding auctions on Thursdays, the Cullman Stockyard this week changed its weekly auction day to Tuesday. The decision wasn’t an easy one, said Callahan Parrish, the fourth generation of Parrishes to work at the stockyard, but was necessary to accommodate their customers.
“It’s going to be a big adjustment,” he said. “But we want to bring more players to the table and provide a more competitive market for our customers.”
The buyers, he noted, are finishing their purchasing weeks by Wednesday, shipping cattle west to meat producers. Changing the auction to Tuesday rather than Thursday fit better into their buying cycle.
The stockyard recently celebrated its 50th year at its 80,000 square-foot facility on Highway 157. The stockyard was founded by the Parrishes in 1954 and moved to its current location in 1969. The stockyard, which consistently rates in the top five auction houses in the state, draws cattle producers from a 100 mile radius and deals primarily in beef cattle.
Cullman Stockyard holds 48 regular auctions annually and an additional 10 to 15 purebred auctions, which give producers the opportunity to incorporate some “reputation” cattle into their herds.
While 2015 was the highest beef market in history, said Parrish, in recent years the market has been much tighter. They are seeing fewer people and cattle coming through, due in part to urbanization.
The other factor in the declining numbers, said Parrish, is that fewer young people are going into the business. While this has a local impact, it also has national implications, he noted.
“With fewer young people going into agriculture, who do we depend on as a nation for our food source?” he asked.
Parrish said they discussed changing the auction day for several years, but in the end decided it was best for customers and their business.
Typical Thursday auctions draw anywhere from 50 to 80 customers; Tuesday’s attracted approximately 150, he said.
“We did this for our customers,” he added. “We’re going to give them as good an opportunity to stay in business as possible.”