Are you ready? It's time for our 14th annual photo contest! Enter your best pictures of the year, for a chance to win a calendar and annual subscription here. Hurry! Deadline for entries is October 21.
Today I viewed my first cattle auction, online (I'm working hey, I can't go in person!) I DON'T UNDERSTAND IT...LOL! I can't understand the auctioneer, and it *appears* that they start high and go low, which is different from other auctions I've participated in. They have a board that shows # of head (varies from 1-4 so far), average weight for the group if it's a group, and then the single weight for single calves. Is the price for the entire calf?
Is there a Cattle Auction Book for Dummies? A primer somewhere? I'm curious as I need to know how much is a decent price for a 400-500 lb calf to purchase for slaughter in a month or two.
So much to learn so little time (on lunch hour now)!
Usually at the yards they like to have groups of feeder steers because the buyers are looking to fill a pot belly trailer. They'll run a pen of calves in and give the average weight of the calves so the buyers have an idea of what they're looking at. Usually if you send a solitary calf to the yards you get skinned alive because the buyers will practically steal it as compared to you selling multiples of well matched calves. They like to see calves all the same color, preferably black, and relatively well matched in size. They want steers that have been dehorned and healthy looking. You'll get docked for bulls, heifers and horns. Now why they don't like other colors than black is beyond me other than the Angus people have done a fine job of brainwashing the public.
The buyers pay so much per pound of calf on the hoof. I'm not sure if they take the average weight times however many are in the pen times cents per lb. or if they run the entire group across a scale and get a total weight and it's them times the cents per lb.
They usually do try to start the calves out at a high price and if they get no bids they keep dropping the bid price down until someone bids. Basically at that point the real auction and bidding starts. Some cattle auctions can be quite entertaining, especially some of the purebred auctions.
Thanks daylilly - so when they start at 85, they mean 85 cents per pound, not 85.00 per calf? I saw in the groups people buy only one, which was removed, then the auction continued for the other three and whatnot. It's very confusing!
85 cents a pound or $85 per hundredweight. Now that's usually with feeder calves. If it's something like 3 day old dairy calves it could indeed be $85 per calf. I don't know what 3 day old calves are bringing right now but $100-$150 for a newborn Holstein calf wouldn't actually surprise me.
Man, $100- $150 for a Holstein calf would surprise me. We got $4.50 for the last bull calf we sold. I think the only heifer we sold last year brought $100. A couple years ago bull calves were higher than that and heifer calves were in the $600 range.
Yes some auctioneers are difficult to understand. Normally, if a single animal is in the ring it will be stated "by the head" or "weigh it" before theauction begins. The posting of weights is just a convenience, mostly for the sellers. An experienced cattle buyer can look at a pen of 10 calves andguess the weights within 5 to 10 pounds each.
Often if one animal in a group is a little different, the auctioneer will call that you are 'buying choice" so that the winning bidder may take only one or all. If one animal seems to have a problem, a buyer may ask that it be cut out of a group.
If you hear a buyers name called with a number attached, that buyer is keeping the animals he buys sorted in the pens. An order buyer may be buying for several feedlots and needs the animals separate for delivery.
No, I am not a buyer. I just got interested in reading the thread and had to get involved.
Another thing you may see (or hear) is a seller call P.O. meaning Pass Out. The seller has decided that the price is too low, and that he will keep those animals. The auction company will charge the same fee as it would for selling the animals.
I would say that head cow means price per cow. That cow sold for $650. Usually those cows are heading back to the farm as a brood cow. You'll see the stockyards sometimes have special sales and they'll sell cow/calf pairs or have special heifer sales. These animals are going back into someone's herd.
Hineni - I'm sorry I can't remember - are you buying a calf to grass feed or will grain feed? The reason is ask is that I don't know about grass feeding; however, to finish a steer with grain, you almost need two. Two will compete to eat and they eat better. We have grass fed but finished on grain. I also recommend that you do some checking (neighbors, extension office, etc. ) and buy direct from a cow/calf producer. When you buy direct, it my feeling, there is a little bit more rapport between you two. Honesly, we are always a little worried when there is one lone calf sold by itself as to what may be wrong with that calf.
Reports of sales in the papers are of two types. The USDA has professional reporters at some of the major sales in easch area. Their reports usually are shown as averages, or for arange of cattle. Those listing single animals, or small numbers are put in the paper by the auction company, and chosen to attract sellers to a coming sale.
Every auctioneer developes his own style and chant, and is sometimes chosen by the auction company because the buyers like the way he works. Just for entertainment sake, if you get a chance attend a sale put on by a registered breeder (sometimes advertised as a yearly production sale, or annualstocker sale.) The auctioneers chosen for these are often of "star Quality".They really work the crowd for bids (and are often paid on a percentage basis. Another advantage to this type of sale-- if it is a well known herd, or large herd-- they sometimes serve a lunch before the sale.
Thank you all so much for making this less confusing. Alas, DH has put the kebash on any large animal purchases until we actually own property :( He just can't justify additional pasture rental costs for a full year prior to putting an animal on the pasture, plus cost of cow/calf pair, plus pasture improvements - all for milk and meat in this economic environment. Sigh.
I can get good milk every two months and organic grass-fed beef is available in some places.
Darn, you just can't argue with plain old economics when it goes on a balance sheet. Pffft. But hey, when the time does come at least I'll have an inkling of what I'm doing...haha!
I looked at all the Craigslist listings for TN. There are some nice animals for sale. Look under for sale - farm/garden.
Even a very nice 20 x 80 greenhouse for only $750.00.
I need a trailer, none around here, tons down there. Do I have to make a trip ?
Bernie, you don't have to go as far as TN for greenhouses. Not as cheap as $750 though but a lot of them have the fans and heaters included for $3000 or so down here. We see them pretty often in the Lexington and Louisville Craigslist.
How do you like this ?
We have been working on this ladies house for a while now. Still have a Fireplace mantel, a bookcase/desk, a bathroom shelf unit, a fancy kitchen window & some storage units in her porch.
I know... (Sigh) it's sitting here on my desk with your address on a sticky note. I've just got to get it in the mail... The story of my life.
I like the style of the top cabinets there. Not as keen on the base unit . I could never be a white cabinet person though. Somehow I always gravitate towards the wood finishes. Sounds like she's putting you through your paces though. I haven't figured it out yet but I want some type of cabinets and drawers built into the space under my stairs in the living room. I saw that once in Southern Living and thought how good a use of essentially wasted space it was.
Just a point of info. Recently we took our registered angus bull to a cattle auction near our home.
He weighed 2,300 lbs. We got $1,500. for him which broke my heart. You see they don't bring as much at an auction as they do at a registered only bull sale which are not near here. He was 9 years old and after I talked to a few ranchers they informed me he was too old to be a good herd sire. They should have seen the beautiful caalves he sired. All our stock we registered but to a lot of people they don't care and then some wanted the papers. We had to cut down as feed is VERY expensive. The bull was my husbands pride and joy. I stayed only to see him sold and cried like a fool all the way home as he went to a slaughter house. He was born on our place.
We usually sold 2 yr. olds on the hoof to anyone that wanted one for their freezer. FDA forbids selling meat thats wrapped and cut and not been inspected by them first. After they purchased we would then take the animals along with one for us to our butcher and he would cut and wrap theirs along with ours and they would go and pick it up. We have never fed any growth hormones or finished them off on grain. They have pasture pellets and good hay during the winter. Summer they get fat on grass. Personally I can't see where angus beef is any better than any other type of beef. I just like knowing what they have been fed cause they are feeding us also.
We are down to 5 animals now and I guess hubby is going to stick with that no. as he is getting old and fences have to be maintained, pastures fertilized and cows fed daily during winter.
You can't beat FRESH meat or vegies. Besides we love all of our animals. Good luck to anyone that wants to raise their own, it's great.
WOW Bonnie, I would have cried also. What a horrible price. I can tell you they bring a lot more than that around here...I agree with your comment about Angus beef also...How and what they are fed is what makes great meat or lousy meat...Hay
Bonnie, I'm so sorry. We had a Black Angus (unpapered) bull calf that was an unexpected bonus with his Mom, who was a rescue. We couldn't get to him to band or cut, so despaired of actually finding him a home. With great good luck, we found someone who actually wanted a young bull. After he went through a round pen and two fences when seperated from Mom and sister, we loaded the whole bunch and sent them off together. I could get the girls back, but it's so much simpler now that there are only three pet steers, that I think we'll just let it go. The hay bill is almost manageable.
So, they got a great deal, and I got a break on the bills. I wish you could have found the same...
Wouldn't you know, now that we don't really have any to sell I have been informed that next year the price of cows is going to skyrocket due to drought in Texas. I feel for those large ranchers who have been selling them off due to no pasture. Feed has gone up quite a bit also. Guess we will always have a few cows as long as we can take care of them cause it keeps us zoned agriculture. Without that our property taxes would be out of sight.
My husb. loves his cows so thats what matters. They keep our pasture eaten down and looking good. I really would miss them if we got rid of all of them. We are what they call hobby farmers so its fun. Take care all and keep raising a beef for yourself if you can. Bonnie
The Extension service has been recommending that everyone sell all their cows and buy more after the drought is over. I just wonder where we are going to have to go to find them - not in Texas! I am planning to hang onto mine and just not add any replacements this year.
You have to pick your times. Auctions are where culls go- they aren't producing enough milk, too old, bad temperaments, etc. and the slaughterhouse for stockers. Steers need to be 2 yr olds, grass range for muscle tone, then put up for a month or 2 in a lot, and finished out on corn and grains. There is a time in their growing when they are between up, or out. Up they are getting lean, growing out means they are getting that nice marbled muscle that is so tender.
My bullhauler friends have told me that Western Oklahoma ranges were stripped and stock shipped north to accomodate the drouth early this Spring. The public always listen to PR (ads), but in truth, knowing the ag reports that are on many radio stations early in the morning gives you market prices and tells you if they are hi/lo, and there are MANY meat cows better than angus.
Angus bulls are temperamental til worn totally down... So are Jersey bulls. If your cow didn't stick, it may have been many things. Was she in milk ever? Was she a twin (many of these are infertile if farmer didnt know how to use a pencil), timing is also important as breeding season is best tween March/October, is there heat stress? is there plenty of nutrition, is she short on any minerals... so forth and so on.
Try to find someone who has cattle free ranging, but they will want more. If the market is right, $500 a cow is an unregistered avg. for her, chuckle, same avg prices as 30 years ago. Farmers are broke, they will try their best to get the best price possible. And hamburger in Texas is up to 5.99# if you don't watch it. Where animals are plenty, prices are cheaper.
I'm buying a couple of steer calves from a rancher here. They are Angus, but a smaller type known as Lowline Angus. Reported to utilize grass more efficiently and to have higher carcass yield per pound than their larger cousins. I'll be feeding them out for a year, then butchering this time next year. Checked a couple of local sales, two weeks ago the average price for 400-500# beef was about $240, the range was $210 to $271. Even bottle calves are expensive.
When I was a teenager, Texas went to crossbreeding several types of more heat tolerant meat cows, prob was they take up to 4 yrs to finish out, 2 to 3 yrs is the whitefaces, -I dont see Limousin anymore, Maine anjou, Hereford, Red/Black angus, Charolais...and the "whitefaces" are typically a hereford/angus cross, or hereford/other cross. The angus are small enough newborn not to tear up the cows nor give them hip problems. I know I am behind the times, chuckle, and several new ones create a stir occasionally... still you want them to hit the ground running so to speak with fast stable growth and not cost you long term years of no returns.
You really do need to visit a few cattle auctions and visit the arenas- they are typically held later in the day away from the heat, and many deals are sealed before they hit the floor in the back pens. If you have time and range to grow them from calf, there are still no guarantees they survive. Many times you can find a person with good grass pasture who buys several head with the knowledge his 'market' has already committed to the purchase of the meat when they finish out, and many times this person also butchers and packages what you have bought. Legitimately approved and inspected, but you still buy the quarter, or half or whole of the meat like the lockers once did, so you aren't getting just the wanted cuts at the gro store. By the way? Would you know how you want it butchered for the cuts you use?
I'm buying to feed out just after having a bad experience buying a "half" cow from someone that organizes sale from a grass-fed grower. I'm not sure why they butchered the calf they did. We ended up with 95 pounds (only) hanging weight! That finished out with less than 60 pounds of beef. I guess most of this is what you'd call "red veal". The T-bone steaks are about 6 inches across. The skirt steak will serve 1-2 people. All the roasts are about 2 pounds. The sirloin and round steak are the only reasonable sized portions, but the full sirloin will serve one person. I'm sure it will all be deliciously tender, but not much beef overall. Remember the Wendy's commercial, "Where's the beef?" That was us!
We had a locker attempt to steal some of ours-they assumed that we didn't know how to finish our own- running 150 head of holsteins grade A Dairy, typically 500 head of stockers... my grandfather and 2 sons went after cattle thieves in Calif- one got away cuz a gun misfired and he knew he best vamoose. My grandfather stocked his freezer to feed 3 families and 11 grandkids, Fancy cuts use/waste a ton of weight. I don't remember exactly what weight we finished them at but I know they were 1500# minimum. I did the grain finishes and watchin growth rates, chuckle, as well as running the needles for vaccinating work. There was always a hog killed as well...We did the butchering on at least 2 cows and 1 hog that I was involved in, was always cold weather if we did it. My brother in law was a butcher in his dads store, had a cow have a heart attack going in for evening milking, my sis and I took over the milking and Joe took what wasnt spoiled right then. We were always so busy...
Demand is skyrocketing along with our population- the west was and still is under drought conditions- western Oklahoma - due west of Oklahoma City is under bans for NO WATER but personal and pet consumption. No grass for feed- Milo, corn stalk plants are being used to fill out starving cattle as simple bulk, among a great many other tricks as we wait for enough water to catch up. Calif is not farming, no water allowed to be used in farming, human water is being bought from a huge underground lake in New Mexico for those in SCalif to drink.
I like goat meat and have no problems eating steak from sheep- must be the scots in my ancestors, at least Texas finally allowed the starving horses to be slaughtered since the horse breeders cant seem to stop breeding horses no one can feed. Aussie guts can handle horsemeat, I am pretty sure it is too rich for my diet. Ahhh, I need to go to work. Cattle auctions are neat to visit several times before decisions are formed.