The bleachers were full and the bidding brisk at the Manitoba Poultry and Pet Stock Association’s annual spring auction.
This year saw the auction moved from its traditional location at the Neepawa fairgrounds to the Keystone Centre in Brandon.
“Sometimes we like to move it around so that we can reach people from other areas, and make it close enough for people to come,” said Kathy Bruneau, a volunteer whose job was handing out the sales bill and bidding cards.
Early on, the turnout was already at the same level as last year, and the number of critters had soared from 200 to over 300 entries, she added.
“We could have taken more, but we stopped it at 300,” said Bruneau.
The auction continues to be dominated by purebred poultry breeds and rabbits, but this year it has been opened up to include small animals such as bottle-fed lambs, a few of which passed through the ring and brought around $45 each.
Equipment was also offered up for sale, with a large incubator going for $350 and a smaller unit for $75. Laying hens, depending on breed, went for $25-$50 each, and quail and peacocks went for anywhere from $50 to $75. A trio of wild turkeys sold for $75 per bird.
Bob Pi lchar, a longt ime breeder of fancy pigeons, welcomed the venue change saying that it offered more space for setting up the boxes of critters and the bidders, who filled three large bleachers around the ring.
He added that prices seemed to be good, but that part of the attraction of an auction is the potential for bidding wars that can drive up prices.
“You never know, right? In an auction, you just need two people,” said Pilchar, with a grin.
Jerrold Siemens, who hatches around 300 to 350 purebred Old English game chickens at his farm near Morris and takes them to poultry shows around the country, was hoping to average about $25 each for his birds.
“I don’t do it for the money,” he said, adding that showing birds is more of a hobby that pays its own way for airline tickets, hotel rooms, and gas.
“If you take in $3,000-$4,000 a year, that pays the expenses.”
Jack Robertson, a call duck breeder with 50 years’ experience from Amaranth, hatches about 200 birds of five different colours per year, and like Siemens, takes them to shows.
The operator of J&J Call Ducks doesn’t take his best ducks to the annual auction. Instead, he prefers to sell them at shows south of the border where they may bring $200- $300 per pair. But getting those prices requires near perfection in conformation and colour, with birds that are even a few ounces too heavy selling for much less. Excess inventory goes to the local market.
“We don’t mind selling them cheaper, because it might get someone else interested,” said Robertson.
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– BOB PILCHAR