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.
However if the average price was $1.20 obviously some cattle sold for less than that, maybe 90 cents or 40 cents or even ten cents on some calf with absolutely no profit potential. If that was your calf at ten cents a pound; we seldom get a call thanking us for finding a home for that absolutely worthless calf.
Most of the time we are scolded for even selling this type. Some say “You stole my calf” Well, hold it right there! We sold it to the highest bidder, which is almost never a major order buyer. That means that no major feedlot would even take the calf. It also means that no one in the sale ring was prepared to bid any higher for that calf. Also if the initials RR are not shown along with the pen number on your settlement check, it means that Roy Rutledge did not buy your calf at ten cents. It simply sold to the highest bidder, which is seldom myself on that type of calf.
My job is to push and protect the market on the good cattle, not create the market, and certainly not to prop up the pot bellied runts, dyers, cripples, big headed old runts, lump jaws, bent backs, swollen navels, blind, frozen footed, sickle hocked, bent legged, hip down, post legged, pencil gutted, chronic bloaters, chronic heavy breathers, twisted necked, hairless, freaky looking cattle.
In fact, I think that it is your job to spot these cattle before you load them. If you don’t want to sell them to the highest bidder at any price, just sort them off and leave them at home. If you load them and send them along with the rest I have to assume that you decided that you didn’t want them around any more and are prepared to accept whatever bid you get on them.
I usually spot any of these types by the time they travel the length of the sale ring, which is about twelve steps long. How long would that take, ten or twelve seconds? It is difficult for me to believe that you didn’t spot them sometime during their lifetime at your place. If you didn’t spot them, don’t yell at me. You should go and look in the mirror and brow beat the person you see there.
My job when grading cattle at a presorted sale is to grade cattle together of the same value that will grow at the same rate when fed the same ration.
When I tag an animal that means that it is one of a kind. It will not fit in with any other cattle here. Obviously it did not fit in with the rest of your cattle either. It is your responsibility as a cattle producer to recognize that before you load. It is then or before, that you should make the decision whether to sell it or not.
When I hear someone say, “No matter where you go they steal one.” or “I get shafted for at least one calf no matter where I sell,” I automatically think that this guy never pays much attention to his cattle does he? Why else would he load up a Junker every year?
My next thought that is ” This guy wants me to shaft the insurance company for him doesn’t he”?
To make a long story a little shorter, if you load scruffy stuff along with the rest of your cattle and send it to the auction, we’ll sell it separate to the highest bidder. We don’t mind. You should not mind what it brings either because you knew that you didn’t want to keep it around any more. Do not blame us for selling it if you were not paying attention when you loaded it. Look before you load.
“How are the averages calculated?’ is an often asked question. All we have to do is ask the computer for a market report. It will print out a complete report. It lists the number of head in each weight break. That is 501 to 600 pounds, 601 to 700 pounds and so on.
It will list the average weight in this group. E.g. 543 pounds. It will list the average price per pound e.g. $1.19.73. When I fill out our in house reports I will quote that price as $1.20 per pound. If the computer price should say $1.19.43 cents per pound I will quote that as $1.19 per pound. In other words I usually round it off to the nearest full cent per pound.
The information from the scale tickets, the invoices and the settlement checks are all in the computer when the sale is closed out. We do not ask for the market report until all the invoices and checks are printed. The computer takes the total weight in each weight break and divides by the total number of head in that weight break. That gives us the average weight per head.
It also takes the total number of dollars paid out in each weight break and divides that by the total weight in that entire weight break. That gives us the average price per pound. The print out will also give us the highest selling price in that weight break and the lowest selling price.
In my opinion neither are as significant as the average price. The only thing that the computer cannot document is the quality of cattle in any one-weight break. Sometimes in the fall there may be a thousand head in the 500 to 600 pound weight break There should all types of quality among that many cattle. If that weight break was made up of just a few exceptionally good cattle the average price will be higher for that reason alone. E.G. mostly just breeding quality heifers in one weight break will boost the average higher than what the cattle market actually moved that week.
When quoting the highs, which everyone seems to want to hear, there is a small discrepancy that we have discovered on presorted sale market reports. When we grade calves into pens, we want the average weight of the pen to come out near 500 pounds 550, 600,650 etc. In order to do this, we set up the pen parameters in the presort program at 476 to 525 in order for the average weight of that pen to come out near 500 pounds. We set them at 526 to 575 to come out at an average weight of 550 and so on.
Some calves that weigh 510, 515 or even 525 will end up in a pen that the average weight is 495 pounds. If that pen sells for 1.39 per pound those 510, 515 and 525 pound calves will be included.
When we get the market report it will show that 500 to 600 pound calves sold for as high as $1,39 per pound. When we read the catalogue we cannot find any calves in any pen averaging more than 500 pounds selling that high. It looks like a mistake or as some doubters like to put it “Roy is lying”. No one is lying or misleading anyone. The computer picked up the 510,515 and 525-pound calves off of the owner’s settlement check and included them in the 500 to 600 pound category.
The market reports out of A.L.A. or W.L.E. are rounded off to the nearest full cent. We can substantiate every, and all figures. The average prices are the best guideline out there. If you have average quality cattle you can expect that price .If you have above average quality cattle you can expect more than the average price quotations. If you have been buying eight hundred dollar bulls or insist on raising some breed of cattle that the major feedlots find unprofitable to feed you can expect less than the average price no matter where or how you try to sell your cattle.
If you do not dehorn or steer your calves properly you can expect less than the average price.
We don’t have to lie or mislead anyone. There is a reason why the order buyers call us “The High Dollar Market”.