Thursday, March 12, 2015

To Market, To Market

They were just minding their own business, feasting on their daily ration of silage when two 4-wheelers interrupted their morning repast.

After the curious creatures looked us over and we did a little "hey, hey, heying" and arm waving, the feeder calves proceeded down the lane to the corrals.
The feeder calves are now a little more than a year old. They were the babies born to our cow herd during the 2014 calving season. They spent the summer on pasture with their mamas, then we sorted off the babies last fall and weaned them. The feeder calves have been in a separate pasture, where Randy & Jake have been feeding them all winter.

On Monday, we sent them up to the corrals, where we sorted them into two groups - steers and heifers. (I never get any photos of sorting. It's not a job that needs a camera thrown into the mix.)

We planned to keep 25 heifers to breed back for our herd. So, after the initial sorting, Randy again looked through the heifers. He picked out the ones which had been treated with the bruccellosis vaccine. Then, among those, he chose the ones that he thought had the best characteristics that we want to carry on in our herd. He looked for heifers with a straight back, good muscling, a larger frame size, good feet, a smaller head and a feminine look. 
Those 25 went into a separate lot. The remaining 73 went back to the pasture until Wednesday morning. That's when the semi came to take them to the sale barn. Though we have two cattle trailers, it would take several trips to get the cattle to the sale barn, so we hire Darrel Harner Trucking to take all the cattle at once.
The cattle go single file up a loading chute and into the semi. The semi is divided into different compartments, which can hold anywhere from six head to 25 head of cattle. Darrel would tell us how many he wanted at a time, and the guys would send that many into the truck.
Then, they'd wait until it was time to send the next group on their way.
Once they were all loaded, the semi pulled out for the trip to Pratt Livestock.
Randy & I went to the sale barn in the pickup and were there when Darrel arrived with the semi.
Darrel backed the semi up to a chute.
The cattle came down a ramp and into a holding pen at the sale barn. Randy and a sale barn employee counted them as they came off the truck.
I stood on a catwalk to get a photo and couldn't help but think of the song from Peter Pan, "Me and my shadow, my shadow and me."

The sale barn workers sorted our cattle by sex and size and put them into different pens where they have water and feed until sale time. There are lots of pens throughout the sale barn facility. Each sellers' cattle are kept separate. 

Today, we'll be back at Pratt Livestock for the cattle sale. More on that later!


  1. Good Luck on your sale! Nice feeder calves!!! Loved your photos, looks very much like the operation we used to have ! Sorting to sell always involved keeping back some replacement heifers too! I miss those days! Cattle prices are great now...hope you topped the market!

    1. Thank you, Jayne! We had a good day, though long day. They had 8,000 head of cattle go through the sale barn.