Archive for January, 2006

Splitting Cattle According to Tag Colors

Friday, January 20th, 2006

Here is a problem that seems to get worse every year. Instead of just grumbling about it maybe if we make people aware of it we might get some co-operation. Some people just do not want to get their cattle here for sorting until late in the afternoon or evening. Why? Who knows? We are here before daylight on sorting days all fall and spring to weigh the overnight stand cattle. Then on most sorting days we run out of cattle and sit around waiting for more cattle to show up. Some days we waste three or four hours of daylight then work until ten or eleven at night weighing the twelve or fourteen hundred head of cattle that showed up after four P.M.

We often receive cattle from places like Minton or Dinsmore before noon, yet cattle thirty miles away don’t arrive until after 6 P.M. What is wrong with this picture?

Sometimes cattle are delivered late because the local cattle liner drivers have to make three or five trips here in the day or there are special circumstances such as break downs. That part we can handle and understand. The part that is not necessary is the goose neck and small trailer loads and the one trip liner loads that arrive late. Why wait? Late in the fall or at this time of year the cattle are in the corral anyway.

We assume people take their time getting here so that they can fill their cattle as much as possible before leaving home. If that is your plan, you can get them as full as they are ever going to get, by 9 A.M. so load then. They will arrive here with pot bellies and all covered in manure. We will grade them into the cheaper pens because if they are pot bellied when we grade them they have to go to the pot bellied pens. Maybe people should be more concerned about price per head than fill. The two will not equate.

Almost everyone gets up early all spring during calving so I really can’t understand why they don’t want to get up and get going early on shipping day. That is usually only one day a year. So why not do it? It is the most important day of the year on your ranch.

The sad fact is that it costs us more to work at night. If it costs us more it is going to cost you more. Qualified staff is hard enough to find and keep without working them half of the night too. Margins are thin enough in the auction market business already. What choice do we have, especially when most of this is unnecessary? Usually it is just the result of poor planning or no planning at all.

We are going to have to start charging a bigger handling charge on cattle delivered and weighed late in the day because it costs us more. Either that or give discounts to those who deliver early. Guess which is the most likely.

Some tips on planning ahead:

  1. Book your truck the same day that you book your cattle.
  2. If you are not shipping everything in the corral, do the sorting a day or two ahead of time, so that on shipping day all you have to do is load out the whole pen full.
  3. If you are shipping calves that are not weaned yet, have them in or close to the corral so that all you have to do on shipping day is sort the cows from the calves and load.
  4. Get up and get going early on shipping day. If Roy and the crew are up at 6 A.M. everybody should be. Early to bed and early to rise and all that stuff…
  5. Make sure corrals and loading facilities are in good repair at least a week ahead of time
  6. Hire truckers who show up on time.
  7. Make sure that all C.C.I.A. tags are in several days in advance, so that the trucker doesn’t have to wait for you to finish that job.
  8. If you have some blemished calves that you don’t want to sell, sort them off a day or two ahead of time. If you want to sell them, ship them, we’ll sell them to the highest bidder but don’t complain about the price. However, there are always some cattle that we tag, and then the owners decide that they would rather take back them home again. It would save you time and money if you watched for these calves and didn’t load them at all, unless you really wanted to sell them.

    E.G. cripples, bent legs, post legs, sickle hocked, down hipped, frozen feet, club feet, humped backed, bent necked, crooked heads, bad eyes, lumps, infected navels, urinary tract infections, freemartins, bent faced or crooked noses, lips missing, lop eared, mange haired, wheezers, chronics, sick, dopey, dyers, diseased, old headed runts, tail missing, tail head deformities, twisted tails, water bellies, pencil gutted, pencil necked, and more.

CCIA Tags

Friday, January 20th, 2006

All cattle must have C.C.I.A. tags in their ears before they can be sold. It is the law. There is no slippage allowed anymore. 100% compliance is needed ever since the B.S.E. problem. We don’t make the rules, but we get fined if we do not follow them and you could get fined too.

If you are shipping cattle and some do not have their tags in, please load them separate on the truck, so that they can go directly to the tagging squeeze upon arrival. Neither of us wants to get fined and the C.F.I.A. inspectors are here regularly.

Thanks.

List in Advance

Friday, January 20th, 2006

Successful sales do not just happen, they are planned.

All cattle for every sale must be listed in advance. We have to know what is going on in advance so that we can plan our days. (Staffing, feeding etc) Some people take offense to this for some reason. Why? It is just a phone call. Some think that is not necessary. It is. It is money in your pocket.

If we can’t tell the buyers (or prospective buyers) that your cattle or horses are coming, why would they show up at the sale? They want to know several days in advance so that they can plan their week.

E.G At one horse sale we only had seven horses listed the morning of the sale. Prospective buyers called. We told them what we had listed. They made other plans. Over fifty horses showed up for the sale. The sellers were unhappy because there were not enough buyers. The buyers who called earlier were unhappy because they would have been there if they had known that there would be that many horses. It was not a successful sale, because it just happened.

Now that you know why we want you to list in advance, there is also the next situation. If you change your mind and decide not to come it is just as important to call us and let us know as soon as you know. This would be a courtesy to your fellow consignors because it affects them as well.

Vaccinations

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

Everyone should be vaccinating their cowherd with 9-way (modified live pre-breeding vaccine) every year after calving and before breeding. You will not save money by avoiding it. Sooner or later it will cost you thousands of dollars in poor conception rates or slipped calves. In the case of B.V.D. you will experience unthrifty, small, sometimes hairless, freaky looking calves as well.

Lots of herds have B.V.D. carriers among them right now and the producer is completely unaware of it. When I and other feedlot operators buy these calves in the fall (those that look normal) we vaccinate them with a live B.V.D. vaccine. Re-exposure to live BVD virus may trigger a fatal form of the disease. It is an expensive way to eliminate carrier calves, but we don’t want them in our herd anyway. If we don’t vaccinate, we run into other problems that cost us even more. If these inefficiencies were not in the cattle business we would pay more for calves in the fall, even on a poor market.

Here is something else to be aware of. Sometime, within the next two years, we will be forced to electronically scan all cattle with R.F.I.D. tags. It won’t be much of a stretch from there to backtrack and pin point where the non-vaccinated calves originated. Do you think lawsuits could ensue? Most cattle feeders get quite irate when a dozen or so calves die shortly after they arrive. Do you blame them? What if you sold a “one owner” group of replacement heifers at a sale and your neighbor bought them? Then he puts them through his regular vaccination program. How popular would you be when most of them die because they were B.V.D. carriers?

When you vaccinate your calves in the spring, forget about using a two way vaccine. Use a seven-way vaccine with Somnus (Iteme). It will cost you less than a dollar per head more, but well worth it.

Are you going to get paid more for your calf because of it? Not at first. You won’t get paid more than your neighbor that doesn’t use the proper vaccine at a presorted sale where his calves get sorted in with yours. However, it will pay back many fold in the long run. Feedlots and backgrounders keep track of where the cattle that they bought came from.

Not only that, but what if you decide to keep some calves over winter yourself, maybe some small ones, maybe some replacement heifers. Do you know how many cattle you could have vaccinated for the price of even one calf that died from lack of vaccine protection? The medication dollars amount to far more than vaccination dollars. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

No, we don’t sell vaccines or medication. Contact your local veterinarian for more information on vaccination programs.

Sort Day

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

The reason that there are two sorting days for some sales is because we have too many cattle listed for that sale to do it all in one day. Therefore, we need you to come in on the sort day you said you would. It can really cause havoc when people switch in mid stream without letting us know. We know what happens. People list their cattle for the Thursday sort day. Then they phone their trucker. He can not come on Thursday but can come on Friday. So they switch to Friday but do no bother calling us back to switch their appointment to Friday. Why not let us know? It is just a phone call. If enough people do this, we put in a slow Thursday and are overloaded on Friday. We need your co-operation if we are going to keep line ups to a minimum.

The term “the sale is full” is misleading. There is limit as to how many we can actually sort, weigh and pen in one day. We could hold and sell eight thousand head in one day, but to sort, weigh and pen that many takes more man hours than we can supply efficiently.

When we cut a sale off and say “the sale is full” it would be more accurate and better English to say “Both sorting (or weighing) days are fully booked”. The sale is seldom full; the sorting days do get maxed out however.

For example when you book your cattle to come in on a Thursday, and be weighed up for a Saturday sale day, that means your appointment is for Thursday. If you want to change it, you should phone us to see if we can work you in on Friday. Many people believe that they are booked in for the Saturday sale and it doesn’t matter which sort day come in on. It does matter. We cannot sort four thousand head on one day then only do one thousand on the other day. We have to be able to plan or balance our work load. Busy people should understand that.