Student Teamwork Culminates in 37th Annual Colorado State University Bull Sale

After six months of genetic analysis, hands-on work and marketing efforts with Colorado State University cattle, students on the Seedstock Merchandising Team are ready for their big finale: the 37th annual CSU Bull Sale.

The sale will begin at 9 a.m. March 23 at CSU’s Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center north of Fort Collins. The CSU Bull Sale will offer buyers 35 yearling Angus and Hereford bulls – cattle representing a university herd established in 1905.

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The sale is held jointly with Leachman Cattle of Colorado, which will offer 550 Angus, Red Angus, Stabilizer and Charolais bulls, as well as 150 heifers. Holding the sale jointly makes the undertaking feasible for CSU and gives students experience helping to run a large-scale cattle event that annually grosses almost $2 million, said Jason Ahola, advisor the of Seedstock Team and associate professor of beef production in the CSU Department of Animal Sciences.

The sale caps several months of hands-on learning for the eight students who applied and interviewed to join the Seedstock Merchandising Team. The students have selected, developed, prepared and promoted the three dozen animals; as part of that work, they showed cattle at the National Western Stock Show in Denver in January and participated in cattle-industry events, including the National Cattleman’s Beef Association convention in Tampa, Fla., in February.

“The Seedstock Team is focused on student learning in the cattle industry, and it gives students experiential, real-world learning. They are also given considerable responsibility for these cattle and the sale,” Ahola said. “They’re really in charge of every detail.”

On this year’s team, all the students have backgrounds in family cattle production, so handling cattle was nothing new for the team.

Even so, students said the Seedstock Team provided them new skills in analysis of cattle genetics and gave them unique opportunities to meet and interact with leaders in the cattle industry during tours, meetings, seminars and conventions.

“The biggest benefit is direct involvement with the industry,” said Stephanie Miller, a senior from Westcliffe, Colo., who is studying animal science. “The team gives us such a good step toward a real, professional environment.”

Sean Kauffmann, a junior in animal science from Brush, Colo., said he was grateful for the team’s recent trip to Florida for the Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show. As part of the trip, the team toured large cattle operations near Florida’s Gulf Coast – a dramatically different ranch setting compared to Kauffmann’s home territory on Colorado’s Eastern Plains.

Also invaluable, Kauffmann said, was honing critical “soft skills” necessary for Seedstock Team success – skills including planning, organization, work ethic, communication and teamwork.

“We coordinated with other students during our entire time on the team, and you have to trust each other to get something done. Trust and teamwork – you have to have that to make the team successful,” he said. “It’s been a great experience, and if I could do it again I would.”


• The CSU part of the sale will begin at 1:30 p.m.
• Preceding the bull sale will be a cattle seminar starting at noon Friday, March 22, at the Colorado State University Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center, 4616 NE Frontage Road, Fort Collins, Colo. The seminar will focus on profitability and timely issues in the cattle industry; lunch will be provided.
• A complimentary sale banquet will begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 22, at Embassy Suites Loveland, 4705 Clydesdale Parkway, Loveland, Colo. Cowboy poet, philosopher and former large-animal veterinarian Baxter Black will provide entertainment.
• The CSU Department of Animal Sciences recently launched a new program that invites donors to sponsor students on the Seedstock Merchandising; these financial gifts support student participation and learning. For information, contact Jason Ahola, team advisor, (970) 491-3312 or