Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

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.

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.


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.

Important information on filling out Manifests

Thursday, January 18th, 2001

One thing we have noticed over the years is that many people have the habit of letting the trucker fill out their manifests for them. In fact, most of the truckers just automatically grab the manifest and fill it out, then hand it to the consignor to sign. If information is wrong (wrong addresses, name spelled wrong, wrong box number) or if information is incomplete, who is to blame?

Filling out the manifest is not the trucker’s job and I don’t know why they would want to get into it.

The manifest is a legal document. I would suggest that you fill it out yourself in detail before the trucker arrives. Then just fill in the numbers after the cattle have been counted on the truck. You know how to spell your name, you know your address, phone number, mileage, when cattle were bred, breed of bull, how or if you want your cheque split or deferred etc. better than your trucker does. It would save everyone a lot of confusion due to misinformation or lack of information.

Also when you make out a manifest you are writing on four copies. Press hard. We get the bottom copy. Sometimes we cannot read it.

Sometimes the truckers do not press hard enough or do not write legibly, as a result trucking cheques are not accurate. Sometimes truckers do not put their complete address on the manifest.

Sometimes the consignors do not put their complete mailing address on their manifest either. Sometimes they do not even put their complete name, for example, we may deal with two or more Joe Blows. They may live in different towns, or the same town but they have the same name with different middle initials – or Senior and Junior.

If you could just press harder and fill it out completely, the office staff would sure appreciate it. Fewer cheques would be detained in the mail too.

Thanks for your cooperation.