BISMARCK, N.D. - The north door on Bismarck Livestock Auction opened a little after 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 7, signaling the start of the first feeder calf sale at North Dakota's newest sale barn.

Bidding was brisk, with calves bringing similar prices to sales in the state the week prior. Barn owner Dean Ulmer hadn't tallied up any totals after the sale but estimated that 700 to 800 calves had sold. While that pales in comparison to Kist Livestock, across the Missouri in Mandan, N.D., where more than 6,000 head were expected on Jan. 8, Ulmer was pleased with the first sale turnout. The seats were nearly full, both with onlookers and buyers. Loads of calves went to Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, along with North Dakota.

"We're working on buyer attendance," Ulmer said.

The barn's first sale was a weigh-up cow sale on Jan. 4, where about 550 cows sold.

Ulmer said the barn continues to work out the "kinks" of starting a new facility. Some gates need to be mounted to provide for a few more smaller pens. Other adjustments will be made indoors.

"Cattle seem to flow well," he said.

One crowd complaint was that once the north and south doors were open to move cattle through, the barn's east side got cold. Ulmer said that should be improved soon, too.

"We will be doing some building to stop the wind and keep the building a little bit warmer," he said. "We won't have to worry about it in July."

Auctioneers at the barn are Todd Ulmer of Bismarck and Herman Schumacher of Herreid, S.D.

Upcoming sales

Ulmer is optimistic about the barn's future.

"We're getting a lot of interest from our sellers as to moving cattle," he said.

Ulmer and his co-owner Jess George are doing most of the field work themselves right now, but Ulmer said they may look to get someone to work to the north of the state.

"We are here for the cattle industry, and we encourage people to give us a call," he said. "We would sure like to market their calves."

Upcoming sales will be broadcast on and on Bektel channels:

Jan. 14: feeder sale

Jan. 18: weigh up sale

Jan. 21: feeder sale

Jan. 24: bred cow sale

Jan. 25: weigh up sale

Jan. 28: feeder sale