Archive for February, 2004


Monday, February 2nd, 2004

At almost every calf sale a sick one or two shows up. Most of the time there is no problem with it. Usually it is spotted during the weighing and grading, it is tagged and kept separate. We call the owner and usually it is taken home until it recovers.

Occasionally though it is not noticeable until the next day. That is because when the cattle have been loaded and handled, warmed up, unloaded and moved up to the scale a sick one is not always noticeable until it lays around and has settled down. Then when we go to move the calves the next day, a sick one will hang back and be easy to spot.

Again when we call the owner usually the calf is just picked up and taken home to heal up. If we try to sell it no one wants to pay much for a sick calf.

However sometimes we find a calf chronically ill, near death or dying in a pen before the sale. Again usually the owner will just come and take it home but not always. Sometimes the owner is really upset. He claims the calf wasn’t sick when it left home. He wants insurance on the calf. We get a veterinarian to examine the calf. If he/she determines that the calf was injured in transit or at the yard we fill out an insurance claim. If he/she determines that the calf is sick and may have been for sometime there is no insurance.

The insurance is for accidents or injuries only. It does not cover sickness. If you say “It was not sick when it left home” it won’t help. It does not matter where or when it got sick, insurance will not cover it.

Our main man “Boots”, came up with a good analogy. If you leave home with your truck or car and the engine or transmission self destructs your accident insurance will not cover it will they? They won’t do it even if you say ” The engine was not sick when it left home”.

If you crumple a fender, roll over etc. it will be covered. The transit insurance on cattle only covers accidents as well.

Market Report Averages

Monday, February 2nd, 2004

Whenever anyone reads our market reports or hears them over the air they may see or hear that five hundred to six hundred pound steer calves averaged $ 1.20 and sold up to $1.40 for example.

There may have been only one animal sell at $1.40 or there may have been a load or a small group or whatever. Often it is a small group of particularly fancy steers that a couple of buyers were fighting over to fill a load. If you had cattle in this group you are usually happy. At least you may be as happy as agricultural people get. (more…)

Old Cows

Monday, February 2nd, 2004

Let us not forget how this whole border closing mess started.

We are having a little problem at the auction markets and probably the slaughter plants too, now that there are subsidies available on slaughter cows. Some people want to bring in any old cow that can still drag herself along. They know that she is not worth anything but they want her to go through the system so that they will be eligible for their subsidy.

Would you want to be the producer that wrecked a multi-billion dollar industry for a $159.00 subsidy? I certainly don’t want to be the market operator who was involved.

A small lump, a slight limp, curly feet and things like that are not the problem. Ancient, hide and bone types, cancer eyes, weak, big-bellied types, major broken lump hole-in the-jaw types and cows of this nature should not come to the auction. The euthanasia should take place somewhere else. The days of dumping this crap off at the auction market are over, and have been since May 20 2003.

Mileage on Manifests

Monday, February 2nd, 2004

Sometimes I think that we offer too much service. Certainly some consignors expect more service than is reasonable. Here is a problem that we and other markets keep running into. They forgot to write on their manifest the mileage/ kilometers the cattle were hauled.

Most of the real cattlemen have it figured out and do it right. My thanks to them for paying attention and doing things right. For the few that can’t get it right, and want to blame everyone else for their ineptness, please read the following several times. Or in some cases have someone read it to you. (more…)


Monday, February 2nd, 2004

It looks like the proposed ten-dollar per head horn deduction has been rescinded. The one-dollar per horn penalty is still in place. Nothing has changed.

My understanding of the confusion is that the Saskatchewan Cattle Feeders Association was behind this initiative. And rightly so, because horns do cause a lot of carcass bruising on finished animals, and the poor cattle feeder has to absorb the bruising discounts.

Most of the bigger feedlots won’t even buy cattle with horns on. It just costs too much to have them dehorned. It costs them too much if they don’t do it too, in carcass discounts from the packers. They won’t bother with them.

Some of the small backgrounders just love buying horned cattle. They don’t have to bid against the big feedlots so they can buy them cheaper. Their time is not as valuable as the big lots. They haven’t penciled out their time and extra care and some antibiotics or the lack of gain on the calves while they are healing.

So they are saying, “Don’t impose a ten-dollar horn penalty. More people might start dehorning. We don’t want that. We make too much money buying cattle with horns on, then dehorning them, healing them up, growing them out, and selling them”.

There goes twenty years of me trying to convince people that they would make more money if they dehorned. Did I convince the wrong people? No, they always knew it. They just let me ramble on because they knew most producers wouldn’t pay any attention to me anyway.

They also convinced the force behind the ten dollar horned cattle penalty to drop it. Really who cares? They should drop the one-dollar per horn penalty too, in my opinion. If people are willing to accept five to ten cents per pound less, because they didn’t get around to dehorning what is another two dollars going to do?


Monday, February 2nd, 2004

[note: This article was written in February, 2004 after B.S.E. was detected in Alberta the previous year.]

Have you ever seen a business that is influenced by emotions as much as the cattle business? I don’t mean just emotions like anger and frustration when you go to load or sort cattle at home with poor or antiquated facilities. In these cases, I have heard of emotions erupting, people leaving the corral, the dog is hiding under the truck and the loudest person out there is left standing lonelier than the Maytag repairman. Time spent designing and building a more efficient corral system has saved more than one man half of his assets. (more…)