Where do you go to find out about Angus cattle at the National Western Stock Show? Facebook, of course! There was lots of activity on Twitter during the stock show, too. Auctions were live streamed by several websites. Many posters in the stockyards had social media links and keywords for sites such as Facebook, MySpace or Twitter as well as their own standard websites. If you’re into cattle, don’t forget to check out YouTube for event video and cow “modeling” shots, which are important in cattle sales to show cattle “quality,” an important subjective value.
The National Western Stock Show in 2011 is the same parades of cattle and other livestock, the same auctions and private treaties, prettying up the cows with a shampoo and blow dry and all the other things you’d miss if you weren’t there in person. If you’re not there, though, the Internet has hit the big time in the cattle industry, facilitating advertising, buying and selling and networking about issues from pastures pests to meat quality.
Sitting at home by my computer, I watched a live streamed auction at the Beef Palace auction arena at National Western. Remote buyers had numbers like the local bidders, and could post questions to be answered live by the auctioneer. At one point I was present at one auction in the stockyards while watching another across the country online. If I wanted to see cattle in action that weren’t on display at an auction, I could go over to YouTube and watch professionally shot video and evaluate the size and structure of the animal.
On new site Ranchhub.com, the whole social networking package is combined for ranchers and others who want to actively discuss and do business online. Membership includes a variety of tools specific to the livestock industry, a kind of Facebook for ranchers which also provides information on sales, shows and meetings in the industry.
How do remote ranches get on the Internet? The same way that folks in the mountains here in Colorado do, using satellite Internet. I noticed an advertisement with an e-mail address at Hughesnet, one of the major satellite Internet providers. Most ads included cell numbers to contact ranchers out in the pasture, and smartphones were hanging off the belts of many folk wearing boots and hats.
One of the streaming video sites, liveauctions.tv, distributed a promotional magazine of technology and tips which mentioned their mobile website which allows ranchers to “stay connected by watching, printing invoices, and viewing sale reports on your mobile phone.” It’s not just the Wall Street hotshots who are lost without their smartphone, these guys are the ultimate mobile professionals, crossing thousands of acres in their pickups while fully connected.
The language is changing, also, as a “virtual Hereford sale” is advertised for Internet savvy ranchers who know that it’s the sale, not the Herefords, that is virtual. An ad for starlakeherefords.com, host of a “Virtual Hereford Sale Ring,” urges readers to “friend” them on Facebook for regular updates. Or, they say, you can stop by in person in Denver during the National Western Stock Show get a face to face (f2f) with the cattle IRL (in real life).
Liveauctions.tv is offering courses for cattlemen to get involved, including setting up a live auction feed, “creating a ranch monthly cash flow with Internet auctions,” which means cattle, not get rich quick infomercials, and “integrating with Facebook” which helps ranchers get exposure by uploading videos to YouTube and Facebook and integrating them with the liveauctions.tv site to bring them to the livestock auction community. Livestock businesses are working with social media and finding it the perfect tool to bring far-flung ranches and businesses together in virtual community.
“About Us”, Ranchhub.com
“Lot One” magazine January/February 2011, Liveauctions.tv