Bovine Bidding


YANKTON, S.D. (KELO) – At one time or another, you’ve probably been to an auction, whether it be an estate sale or even a cattle sale. For these auctions to happen, you need an auctioneer to help get the bidding going. It’s a job you don’t learn overnight and takes a lot of practice.

It’s a big day at Stockmen’s Livestock in Yankton. In fact, at this sale, owner Greg Ryken expects more than 4,000 feeder cattle to be bid on and sold.

Thousands of cattle are sold at the sale barn weekly.

“I would say we average 2 to 3 sales a week all year, and then when we get into busy times, maybe December and January, we might average 3 or 4,” auctioneer/owner Stockmen’s Livestock, Greg Ryken said.

Ryken is the auctioneer getting the sale started today. It’s something he’s been doing for about 30 years.

“I love it, I absolutely love what I do, I can’t wait to get up in the morning and go to work everyday, it’s something that I grew up with,”Ryken said. “I started with farm sales in auctioneering, household and antiques with Payne auctioneers back in 1989 and eventually moved into cattle sales.”

Even though he’s been doing this for more than a quarter of a century, Ryken actually had to learn this skill at an auctioneer school.

“They taught you different things and rhythm and beat, and just a little bit of everything, and basically it’s numbers, putting the numbers together,” Ryken said.

Dan Koupal is another auctioneer here at Stockmen’s Livestock. He’s been an auctioneer for about 11 years.

“I’ve kind of had the voice for it, even in high school I could kind of do it a little bit, I ended up going to an auctioneer school in Mankato, Minnesota, which isn’t a very long school, it’s only 8 days,” auctioneer, Dan Koupal said.

When you listen to an auctioneer, you may think they are talking fast, but that’s not necessarily the case.

“They teach you how to count, just by $1, $2, $2.50, or $5 bids, and adding filler words, I use the filler word ‘dollar bid now,’ a lot so it’s just putting those words in between your numbers, so it’s actually talking slow but with the filler words, it sounds faster,” Koupal said.

Along with that, you also need to keep an eye on who is bidding, which at times can be a little tough.

“Everybody has their own little way, we get guys that wiggle their ear, move their little finger, and we’ve got guys that nod their head, and we’ve got guys that wink, just about anything, and you pretty much know who they are after a few years and then you get a few you don’t see very often and they have their own way, and we pick it up, and there’s times we get a big crowd and it makes it a little tougher,” Ryken said.

Both Ryken and Koupal agree that one of their favorite parts is the people they get to meet and work with.

“It’s fun to shake hands with everybody when they come in the door, and you see them, and they are happy, even when times are tough, they have big hearts and so it’s always fun to see them and put a smile on their face as well,” Ryken said. “I got a really good crew, I’ve got good auctioneers, and good ringmen, and we get along pretty good that way.”

“I grew up on a family ranch south of Dante so I am dealing with people that are just like me and in the cattle industry and you enjoy what they do and they share a common ground with them,” Koupal said.

And it’s a passion these two say they will be doing for as long as they can.

“I love what I do, so I will be doing it for as long as I can, until someone kicks me out and I’m not doing very good, but I enjoy what I’m doing,” Koupal said.

“As long as God will let me, I don’t think I will ever retire, I love it too much and I love the people too much,” Ryken said.

Ryken also adds at the beginning of January, Stockmen’s hosted a Midwest Region Qualifying Event for the 2020 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship.

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