Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cattle Auction

Today I met Pat (the real farmer) at Web Livestock Exchange in Benson to see my calves sold.
I own 6 cows that I lease to Pat. He keeps them with his herd, supplies their care and feed and we split the calf sales 30-70.

He rents our family farm from Spring through Fall, so we get to enjoy seeing the calves run around and grow. The cattle go home to his farm for the winter.

Yet, I had no trouble recognizing my calves when I got to the sale barn. Pat brought them in yesterday so they could get settled in. He does not like to sell sweaty, stressed animals as he feels he will get a better price if they look good.

Anyway - I had never been to a cattle auction before, but had no trouble finding the place, and the parking lot full of pickup trucks and cattle trailers was a clear indication that today was the day. There were several door, but I just followed the steady stream of ranchers into the unmarked door in the center of the building. That door led to a small, unlit entrance which led to a concrete floored hallway and the entrance into the arena. - OK, now I know where the auction will be.

The men was following walked around the arena to a small, unmarked door on one side. I followed them through the door and found myself in the barn. There were really little calves inside the barn, while down at the end, people were moving gates around to run cattle down corridors and into different paddocks. One the 3 cows went past, I let myself in through the gate and wandered down the corridor to the outdoor paddocks. I quickly spotted my calves in the first paddock. The steers were closest to me, and the heifers were under the shelter in the paddock behind them. They looked good.

Pat and a lovely young lady approached from the other side, and I was introduced to Janessa - Pat's fiancee. She works there showing cattle on the area floor. That is where they met. Janessa gave me a little tour - including the cattle chute where they were manually testing the heifers & cows to see if they were pregnant.

I had 3 steers and 3 heifers, all to be sold as feeders, meaning that they are to be fed to a heavier weight and eventually butchered for their meat.

Watching the auction with Pat was great, he pointed out various features that buyers were looking for, and what features to avoid.

Pat brought along a Hereford steer so we could sell the steers in pairs. I had 2 black and white steers and one brown and white (Hereford) one. The heifers were all black and white.

My calves got top price! The black steers brought $1.06 per pound, the brown ones brought $1. The heifers brought $.91. Pat was very pleased with how we did. They weighed an average of 466 pounds each.

All in all, it was a very interesting and profitable day.

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