Archive for the ‘Roy’s Bullpen’ Category

Age Verification – To Do It or Not?

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

To do it or not to do it. Will I get paid extra if I do it? Who knows? Maybe you should worry about if you can even get someone to buy your cattle if they are not Age Verified. My suggestion is to get it done now, because it costs nothing to do it and all you would be out is your time. You have time into branding, feeding, baling, calving, fencing and all the rest. What are a few hours more to get the A.V. done?

Japan, South Korea and maybe a few other countries will not accept our beef or offal (entrails) unless those products are from A.V. cattle. What was the point of getting those countries back into our market place after B.S.E. if we do not A.V. enough cattle to supply those markets? Age verification is going to become even more important as we find more B.S.E. cows.

My friend Doug Horner, Alberta’s Agriculture Minister, is adamant that A.V. is going to be mandatory in Alberta in 2007. That will be about the time that this year’s calf crop is fat or finished. Will our order buyers have any Alberta orders for non-aged verified calves this fall? Sure, we usually send the really fancy calves to Ontario or Quebec and the next cut to the U.S. Still you wouldn’t want to eliminate any competitive bidding by not Age Verifying your calves would you?

The general consensus seems to be that there may not be much of a premium paid for A.V. calves but there will likely be substantial discounts for non-A.V. calves. This to me amounts to the same thing. Everybody I know in the marketing end of the cattle business is encouraging cattle people to bite the bullet and get it done.

You do not have to have each calf’s individual birth date. For example; you can lump all the calves born between March first and June thirtieth into one group if you want.

Next problem: We are being warned to not leave it until the last minute or shipping time or shipping week. Last year not near as many calves were being A.V. but in the fall the C.C.I.A. system was bogged down. This year it will be a nightmare. So please save yourself a lot of frustration and do it as soon as possible. No, the auction market doesn’t age verify your calves. We don’t have the staff or the expertise to do this, besides it has to be done long before shipping.

Not computer literate? Lots of us older fellows are not but we all know someone who is. Ask them for help. You may also contact Assiniboia Vet Clinic 306-642-4447 and they will do your age verification for you, for a small fee. For more information on Age Verification please call: 1-877-909-2333 or visit

Single Weighing System

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

We have installed a crowding tub, “S” alley and single animal scale to handle your calves more efficiently on presorting days. How does this benefit you? There is very little handling or sorting of your calves after we receive them. We don’t even split steers from heifers anymore before weighing them. We just unload them, do the paper work, have them brand inspected and walk them up to the crowding tub. They walk through the “S” alley on to the scale one at a time; we catch a weight and let them into the ring. They are graded and penned from there into feed and water pens. If you are concerned about the sorting crew working pounds off during sexing and sorting for uniformity, you will appreciate this new system. The only time we have to work the cattle at all, is if we have to sort for ownership. (Two or more owner’s cattle mixed on the incoming load.)

Another benefit to you other than reduced shrinkage is when cattle are weighed one at a time we end up with a very precise, even, tight, sort on the cattle in each pen weight wise. We were very careful before but now it is even better. Some people still think that lumped and dumped rough sorted cattle sell good enough but there is no substitute for well sorted loads of cattle. These big feedlots lay these cattle into a pen when they buy them and they sell that whole pen of cattle in one swoop when they are finished. They do not resort the cattle. There is no way these cattle can come out of the pen uniformly unless they are very uniform and precisely sorted going into the pen. Ask any buyer if they pay more money for precisely sorted uniform cattle.


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.


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.


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.

Why would anyone want to buy them full?

Tuesday, August 9th, 2005

Why would anyone want to buy them full?

After reading an article on page 34 of the October 1997 issue of the Canadian Cattleman magazine, my colleagues conscripted me to try to dispel some of the myths and misinformation concerning shrink on cattle.

It seems that the people who have trouble comprehending the concept are those who only raise and sell their own cattle. (more…)

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…)


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…)