Wheeler Livestock Auction family auction stays fresh but true to its roots | Cattle

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True to its roots, Wheeler Livestock Auction in Osceola, Missouri, remains a family-run business where bidders can be sure they’re buying farm-fresh cattle and sellers know the entire auction barn team is working to get them the best price for their animals.

“We have a lot of customers who have been with us from the start and we are gaining new customers every day,” says co-owner and auctioneer Byron Wheeler, who has sold cattle from the barn since the days when his parents, Burleigh and Doris Wheeler, established the company in 1989.

Byron, his wife Angela, his sister Karla and her husband Tom Waters have owned the barn for sale since 2018.

“It’s a real family business, and always has been. We just do fair and honest business,” says Byron.

Both Byron and Angela grew up on beef farms in St. Clair County, Missouri, where the sales barn is located. Karla and Tom operate a successful family row crop operation in Orrick, Missouri.

Burleigh still steps in as a field representative, as does the auctioneer, Colonel Les Tennis, who has been with the business from the start. A nephew, Weston Shelby, is office manager. Rounding out the team is a seasoned group of employees, including Jane Hearting, barn clerk since 1990, and field reps Kevin Wade and Darwin Hearting.

The entire Wheeler team’s knowledge of breeding, business management experience and customer service, acquired over decades, benefits buyers and sellers who visit the sales facilities in modern auction just off Missouri Hwy. 13. The company also provides transportation services and is always happy to help customers with their transportation needs.

Roads to Wheeler Livestock Auction go both ways, Byron says.

“I am happy to make visits to the farm. I drive thousands of miles to watch livestock and am happy to do so.

Continuous improvement to serve customers

Keeping Wheeler Livestock Auction in the family doesn’t mean things haven’t changed. Far from there. Not only has the number of cattle passing through the auction doubled over the past five years, but owners continue to make improvements to better serve buyers and sellers.

“We are constantly improving the enclosures, water points, etc. to take care of the cows. We rebuilt a lot of outdoor feeding pens and put in a lot of shade to deal with the drought,” says Byron. “I try to take care of everyone’s cattle as if they were my own.”

Wheeler Livestock Auction has space for 1,500 head of cattle before a sale.

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“We use this ability quite often, especially in the fall,” says Byron.

The barn attracts cattle from a 120-mile radius, but buyers come from a 700-800 mile circle around St. Clair County. Unloading and loading facilities make the barn popular with buyers and sellers.

Technology has steadily improved since the days when everything was written down on paper by hand. With computerized record keeping and online live auction broadcasts available at CattleUSA.COM, buyers and sellers can be assured of having the latest technology tools at their disposal.

The barn holds a feeder and beef cattle sale every Thursday at 11 a.m. and a special purebred cow sale at 6 p.m. on the last Saturday of each month. A special bull sale is held each March and in-bred heifer sales are held in July and January.

Special sales are “popular events,” says Byron. “They’ve been really good.”

The weekly feeder and slaughter auction offers strong bidding and competition with seven or eight slaughter buyers attending each week.

“The only way to find out prices is the auction method,” says Byron, who attended Ft. Smith Auction School when he was 16 and calls most barn sales.

“I love selling cattle,” he says. “It’s a challenge to see what you can get for them.”

Wheeler Livestock Auction operates on a commission basis, unlike other auction barns which may charge a flat fee per head.

“This means that we always strive to offer buyers the best price. The more they earn, the more we earn,” he says.

Bright days ahead for producers

The outlook is positive for beef producers, says Byron.

“I really believe beef prices are on the rise and will continue. The number of cows is going to be short. This is a great time for the cow-calf operation. I think it’s gonna get really good.

Many changes have taken place since Wheeler Livestock Auction was founded, but what won’t change is this family-run business’s dedication to its customers and community. Count on Wheeler Livestock Auction to continue to provide the same personalized, friendly service that customers around the world have come to expect since 1989.

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