Archive for January, 2005

Good Quality Oats

Tuesday, January 11th, 2005

Good quality oats brings top price. The kind that has already been through the horse comes much cheaper.

Occasionally producers think that we should drop our selling fees. In 1986 we charged twelve dollars per head to sell calves. Now we charge fifteen or sixteen dollars. That is about a twenty-five percent increase in eighteen years. Wages (our biggest expense) have almost doubled in that same time period. Trucks, fuel, skid steers, lumber, pipe, advertising, power and stuff like that costs about twice as much too. The only reason selling charges haven’t doubled is because our volume has increased too and as long as we can maintain our volume we can hold our rates to a minimum.

Some think we charge too much. Our margins are already slimmer than Ally Mc Beal. I don’t know where to cut costs anymore than I have already and still offer the best service around. I am open to suggestions though.

We have some very knowledgeable people on staff, but they tend to charge us more than those with little expertise. We are open year around while some of the cut rate sale yards are only open at peak periods. We have always lost money in May, June, July, August, September and most Januarys. We have always stayed open to provide service in those months. Some others close in most of those months to cut their costs. Should we?

Here is something to think about though. What if another yard offered to cut the rates by five dollars per head? It sounds tempting to go there doesn’t it. Here is the “rest of the story”.

If the calves bring the same price as Assiniboia or Weyburn it would be a good deal.

However, if five hundred pound calves average even one cent per pound less you have gained nothing. If they average two cents less you lose five dollars per head by trying to save five dollars. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

We have found that by having the best of personnel, facilities, feed, advertising, and industry contacts results in better prices for your calves. We have more depth in the cattle business than most. This all results in more money in your pocket. Isn’t that what it is all about? Your net cheque.

Sorting and Grading Cattle

Tuesday, January 11th, 2005

It may be a little known fact that I grew up on a large cattle ranch. I handled and sorted thousands of cattle before I started working at the Veteran Auction Market at Veteran Alberta. I thought I was an experienced cattleman when I walked into the market for my first day of work. I had a lot to learn. I learned more about the cattle market and how to sort cattle according to other people’s orders in the first six months I was there, than I did in twenty five years of riding the range. That was twenty five years ago and close to two million cattle ago. I have been learning ever since. (more…)


Tuesday, January 11th, 2005

Don’t take the term “Thirty months of age” too literally.

Most people think that the term “cattle under thirty months of age” means that they were born less than thirty months ago. Not so now. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency any cattle that have or are getting their second set of incisor teeth are considered too old to ship the beef to the U.S.

That is, they are considered over 30 months of age, whether they are or not, if the second set of incisor teeth are even erupting from the gum when slaughtered. Therefore, any steer or ox or heifer or heiferette with a big, longer mature head will not bring much more than cow price, if the buyers think that those teeth will be coming in by the time it is fattened and slaughtered. When it was actually born no longer has any relevance. In the big packing plants they are finding that about four percent of British cattle, especially heifers will have their second set of incisor teeth erupting as soon as twenty to twenty four months of age.

No auction market operators, order buyers, cattle feeders, packing plants or producer group can do anything about it nor did any of us have any input into this new ruling.

This ruling has been in place for many months now but some sellers still seem to be unaware of it. The bottom line is, if you let your yearlings get too old they will sell for cow price. Don’t blame us.

You can contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to clarify their newly implemented guidelines. Their number is 1-866-400-4244.

Two Day Sort

Tuesday, January 11th, 2005

If you plan ahead, we can plan ahead and we will all come out ahead.

Please phone in and book your cattle several days in advance of the sale.  (Or book online!)  If we know in advance that we are getting too many to sort comfortably in one day we will plan a two day sort. If we think we only have enough listed for a one day sort and you want to ship at the last minute it puts too much pressure on sort day. We can’t get extra staff on a moments notice. Believe it or not some of them tell me “just because you don’t have a life doesn’t mean we don’t”.

When we say “the sale is full” it would be more correct to say that “the sort is full”. We have the capacity to sell seven or eight thousand head on sale day. However no-one has the capacity to sort, weigh, grade and pen, that many in one day. Sorting twenty five hundred in one day is a hard day’s work.

If we only have two thousand head listed we will plan for only a one day sort. If we know that more cattle are coming in time, we will plan for an extra sort day. How does this help you?

  • Line ups will be insignificant. Your calves will get to the scale faster after unloading.
  • You won’t be told “The sort is full, we can’t handle any more until the next sale”.
  • If your cattle are already listed and you decide to change your mind, and are not coming to that sale, several days notice would also be appreciated. Why call at the last minute or not call at all? Maybe with a little advance notice we could have let another producer have your spot if we knew in time that you weren’t coming.

Thanks for helping us help you.