The Dairy Club of Virginia Tech began a national online cattle auction today that will run until Friday, April 25. The inaugural "Showcase Sale of Virginia Tech" is one of the first of its kind in the world. About 60 elite consignments representing 20 states from California to Maine will be sold in an innovative online format. This sale combines the agricultural expertise of this land grant university with the cutting edge technology that has become its trademark.

The online software being used for the sale is owned by Alta Genetics, Calgary, AB, and has been modified through a partnership of Virginia Tech students and industry professionals. The online auction operates much like a bovine version of the popular "e-bay." The sale will end during a social starting at 5:00 pm on April 25 in the West Club of Lane Stadium's South End-Zone with online bidding formally closing at 7:00 pm ET. With the online format, all cattle sold will remain on their home farms during the sale, and will be presented with pictures both online and at the social. This format is "the wave of the future" according to Dr. Bob James, professor in the Department of Dairy Science, as it allows for increased bio-security as well as more comfort for both animal and person.

The cattle range in age from unborn embryos to mature cows. The embryos, which are frozen, will be shipped packed in liquid nitrogen.

The sale has been organized and run by students, under the guidance of industry professionals and Dairy Club advisors. Twenty-four Virginia Tech students directly participated in the planning of this event, from freshman dairy science majors to a senior studying chemical engineering.

Members of the United States dairy industry have been quick to support this project. Sale managers, breed associations, dairy publications, genetics companies and breeders alike have offered their assistance and advice, and are eager for the outcome. Katharine Knowlton, assistant professor in the department of Dairy Science and sale advisor says, "This activity has been a tremendous opportunity for our students, and has generated enormous enthusiasm for our program among alumni, industry, and recruits. The sale was initiated by students, planned by students, and implemented by students which offers them a level of responsibility and a learning opportunity available nowhere else."

The agriculture business is entering a brand new era and Virginia Tech finds itself in a familiar position - in front, leading the way.

The web site, which includes an online catalogue, sale terms and conditions as well as the current list of bids is http://www2.dasc.vt.edu/dairyclub/showcasesale.html

For more information, contact John Grantham (sales coordinator and member of the Dairy Club) at (540)-533-1136; jgrantha@vt.edu.