Friday, March 11, 2016

Sale Time: A Year in the Making

The road to the cattle sale isn't covered just in the distance the semi travels as it leaves the farmstead and arrives at the sale barn.

For us, the road to the sale of our feeder cattle started more than a year ago, when the 2015 calf crop was being born on the County Line in February and March. We have been caring for them ever since.
Photo taken in late January 2015
Last week, we sold 72 feeder calves at Pratt Livestock. Ours were among the more than 6,600 head sold last Thursday (March 3).
From cowboy hats to ballcaps, buyers and sellers mingle in seats reminiscent of an old school gym. Cattle buyers are identified by their cell phones pressed close to their ears, as they talked with clients who needed cattle. They were on their phones as much as teenage girls ... really!
Buyers nervously watched the board to see how much each particular pen of cattle brought, as the auctioneer sang his tune about "fussy and fancy heifers" and "green steers."

"You like 'em now," the auctioneer warbled.
"Look at the length on them, and their bigger sisters are coming right behind them."
Our steers averaged 808 pounds apiece and sold for an average of $1.58 per pound. Our heifers, which weighed an average of 678, sold for an average of $1.54 a pound. That was way down from last year, when cattle prices were above the $2 per pound mark. Can you think of anything besides farm prices that go down rather than up? Yeah, me neither.

Though they didn't weigh as much as last year, Randy was pleased with the 2-pound-a-day rate of gain since they were weaned from their mothers last November. 
We sold 72 head and kept 25 of our 2015 calf crop at home to become our next new mamas. These heifers will give us the first glimpse of our 2017 calf crop next January and February.

It was a long day at the sale. We got to the sale barn just after 10:30 AM. It was 8:30 before our last group of steers were sold.  I had brought a library book, but I finished it mid-afternoon. I ended up buying a paperback in Pratt to pass the time for the rest of the day.
There was one big bonus to leaving after dark. The semis played ring-around-the-rosey in the sale barn parking lot, creating a colorful light show.
The sale ends one chapter on the County Line,  but the next one has already begun with a new crop of 2016 calves.


  1. A never ending cycle!
    You'd think prices would have to go up. Sometime. Grrrr...

    1. Naturally, they were up some last week - the week AFTER we sold. Such is life!

  2. The cattle prices in Australia are at an all time high, which is about time because they have been so very, very low for too long. There is optimism in the cattle market at the moment.

    1. Phil & I just did some working out on your price compared to Australian cattle prices, taking into account the exchange rate. Although your price has come back and ours is at a record high you are still getting 53c/lb more than us. Seems that Aussie beef price is still too cheap.

    2. Our prices last year were an all-time high. Part of that was due to a multi-year drought in many of the top cattle-raising states. The cattle numbers are rebounding, which makes the price go down. I hope we can all enjoy better prices in upcoming years - whether in the U.S. or Australia!