BLACKSBURG, VA. -- Virginia cows won't jump over the moon, but their images will travel through space in the state's first satellite-video livestock sale.
On Monday, Sept. 14, the history-making sale will open a new era for Virginia's beef industry and is expected to benefit cattle buyers and sellers alike.
"The satellite sale will allow producers to sell farm-fresh cattle that haven't been exposed to diseases or sale-barn stress," said Bruce Bainbridge, extension animal scientist at Virginia Tech.
"It will also introduce Virginia cattle to a new audience and stimulate interest among western buyers," he added.
A combination of time-tested live auction and new technology dubbed "tel-o-auction," the satellite sale will show buyers that "Virginia has good cattle that can fit their needs and market," Bainbridge said.
Cattle will be graded according to Agriculture Department standards and videotaped on the farm. A descriptive listing of the cattle will be mailed to potential buyers before the sale, and a video preview will be offered on Saturday evening, Sept. 12.
At the time of the sale, buyers, through predetermined satellite coordinates, will tune in on their television sets for another view of the cattle. Buyers will then be able to phone in their bids through the tel-o-auction hookup.
"Cattle buyers are like everyone else," Bainbridge said. "They like to see what they're buying. The satellite sale will allow us to provide this luxury."
The sale will be broadcast from Virginia Tech's satellite station.
Yearling steers and heifers, weighing 600 to 1,000 pounds, were to be consigned to the sale at least three weeks before the sale date. Sale organizers say they are hoping to market more than 2,000 head of cattle during the first satellite sale effort.
A second sale of yearling steers and heifers, and steer and heifer calves, is being planned for Saturday, Oct. 10.
The satellite livestock sale is a cooperative effort among the Virginia Cattleman's Association, the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service and the Virginia Agriculture and Consumer Services Department.
The innovative marketing concept also is being underwritten by national beef checkoff funds for live animal promotions.