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Fall Means...Cow Sales??

For most people, fall means cooler weather and changing leaves.  For cattle producers, fall is also one of the busy times for cattle sales, more specifically breeding cattle sales.  Not sure what those are?  They are an opportunity for cattle producers to purchase bulls or females that someone else has bred and raised to use in their own operations.

Breeding cattle sales are generally held in the spring and fall of the year – anywhere from January to approximately April, and end of August/September through the beginning of December.  There are a number of reasons for this – cattle are usually bred to calve in the fall and spring, so many of the females that are sold during this time either have new babies at side, are getting ready to calve, or have calves that are old enough to be weaned – so those calves can be sold separate from their dam (mother) and the cow can be sold as a bred cow.  It is also the time of year when farmers are not making hay or taking advantage of long, warm days to get things done.  For bulls, if a cattle producer plans to calve in the fall, he will most likely put a bull in with the cows at the end of November/beginning of December, and if he wants his cows to calves in the spring, he will put the bull in at the end of April/beginning of May.  If it is time to purchase a new bull, many producers will wait until they are almost ready to put a bull in to buy one.
Breeding cattle sales can be consignment sales – meaning that many different breeders each consign a few animals, or they can be sales for a specific farm if the breeder has enough animals to draw a crowd.  Some of the specific farm sales may have partners or guests – other breeders who use similar genetics and have a few animals to add to the sale to help increase the number of cattle sold.  Most sales aim to have at least 45 to 50 animals to sell – some will sell as many as 75 or 80.  The goal is to have enough animals to make it worth a potential buyer’s time to come to the sale, without having so many that it is overwhelming.  Animals offered for sale are ones that the breeder/owner feels will benefit other cattle producers and are a good representation of their particular farm or operation.  Recently online sales have become popular for smaller breeders who want to sell a small set of more “elite” animals (usually show heifers, show steers or embryos, and occasionally a few bred heifers) – these sales will include pictures, videos and information on the animals, but the actual sale is online instead of having potential buyers all come to one location.
Generally, all the animals in a sale will be listed together in a sale catalog, which will be mailed to potential buyers.  This catalog will include information on the animals – their pedigrees, birth dates, breeding information, calving information, and any other information that the current owner feels should be shared.  Cattle are listed in the catalog as “lots” which makes it easier for potential buyers to identify them when they come to view the cattle at the sale.  These potential buyers will go through the catalog to see if there are any pedigrees or pictures that they like, and mark those to look at on sale day.

On sale day, buyers will come 1-2 hours before the sale is scheduled to start to look at the animals they are interested in.  Sales are usually scheduled around lunch or dinnertime, and lunch or dinner is generally provided for potential buyers.  An auctioneer sells cattle and the highest bid gets the animal. 
These sales offer cattle producers a chance to purchase desired genetics to help improve their herds, and also offer a chance to network and visit with other producers to learn more about what genetics they are using in their programs.  Cattle sold are taken back to the buyer’s farm and put in the herd with the other animals on the farm.

Monday, November 06, 2017
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