When Karl Winter started Winter Livestock in 1936, many Kansas towns had their own auction markets.

When Karl Winter started Winter Livestock in 1936, many Kansas towns had their own auction markets.

These days, only a handful survive.

"There were many small auctions in most of the towns out here - Bucklin, Kinsley, Garden City, Ashland," said Brian Winter, the third generation to run the auction market. "Over time, (ranchers) went to a more regional facility, like Pratt, Dodge City, Salina and Syracuse."

Even their own market territory is different: "It is more regional and less far-reaching now than it was 20 years ago," he said.

Other changes include the way cattle are transported. No longer does the industry use rail, instead switching to trucking in the early 1970s.

"We just took out the last of the railroad pens at La Junta this summer," Brian said of the family's other sale barn location.

He added the pens were made out of 2-by-10s and railroad ties.

There have been challenges, but the Winters continue to adapt. That includes dealing with highs and lows in the market, as well as Mother Nature. A multiyear drought the past five or six years affected cattle producers, many of whom had to reduce their stocking rates in order to preserve their pastures.

The industry has also gone high-tech on the range. Buyers no longer have to be present to bid. The Winter sale barns are all part of CattleUSA, which allows potential buyers to view the sale online.

"The internet bidding has been the next big game-changing revolution," he said.

"We will have close to 500 to 600 people online - at any given time - watching the sale," he said. "And there are about 200 people in attendance at the facility. At any given time, there could be two or three people bidding on cattle."

"We are fortunate we are more of a multigenerational designation," Brian added. "We have great multigenerational sellers and great, strong buyers, and we have the volume of cattle that builds on itself."