The second largest cattle sale to ever be held at the Stratton Sales Barn took place on Saturday.
A total of 1,572 animals went through the ring, generating roughly $1.95 million for farmers across the district and surrounding area.
The largest cattle auction ever had at the Stratton Sales Barn was held in 2011 and sold 1,633 animals.
Long-time sales barn volunteer and Rainy River Cattlemen’s Association (RRCA) member Kim Jo Bliss said they’re considering their options for future spring cattle sales because of the sheer volume of animals put through the ring on Saturday.
“It was one of our biggest sales ever,” she enthused. “We’re kind of wondering if we should be trying to have two spring sales now.”
The logistics are still in question though, as they would have to decide who participates in each sale and if the buyers, who travel from southern Ontario and Manitoba, are willing to make two trips in the spring.
Meanwhile, the number of animals sold on Saturday was initially surprising to Bliss but she said there are an increasing number of producers who are birthing their calves in the fall, which made up a large portion of this year’s sale.
As well, last fall’s drought has contributed to a hay shortage in the area and Bliss said hay piles are likely getting low, which could have also contributed to the spring sale’s higher numbers.
“We weren’t able to make hay because there just wasn’t the material there so I think people were getting rid of animals for that reason too,” she reasoned.
While a majority of the animals are sent east and southwest, about $50,000 worth of cattle was purchased by local producers.
“They’re buying some cattle they’ll take home and put on feed,” Bliss explained.
“Some might be breeding them but some of them may put the cattle on grass for the summer and market them again,” she added.
The price per pound at the spring sale was quite high according to Bliss, she recalls hearing the auctioneer comment on the topic a handful of times throughout the sale.
The average price per animal was $1,238, which is marginally higher then the $1,074 per animal that was averaged at all of the sale’s last year.
But when prices are high, Bliss said the buyers can get a little fussier about the animals and sorting them back.
When a package of 10 or 15 cattle enters the ring the buyers sometimes separate two or three cattle out and purchase the remaining heard which can slow down the selling process.
Saturday’s sale ended at 10 p.m., running a bit later than usual, because of the large volume of animals and buyers wanting the cattle separated for certain purchases.
Near the end Bliss said they were selling a lot of cattle individually, one by one.
But when the auction closes, the work for those who facilitate the sale is really just getting started.
Those who are tasked with moving the cattle out of the sales barn and into the hauling trucks were there from Saturday until Monday morning.
Bliss said it was a busy weekend and lots of people came out to watch the sale, which is always great to see.
In fact, the sale was so well attended the barn’s kitchen sold out of everything they had, from hamburgers and hot dogs to chicken fingers.
The RRCA is proud to be able to provide an option for producers around the district to sell their cattle locally.
“It’s just a really good marketing option and tool,” Bliss lauded. “Not just for the farmers in Rainy River but we do have quite a few producers that we see from Thunder Bay, Dryden or Kenora District.
“We’re just really fortunate,” she added.
The cattle sale was started in the 1960s when local farmers had the vision of raising and marketing their animal’s locally.
They soon made it into a reality and have held the cattle sales every year since.
For Bliss, working the cattle sale can be an exciting time.
“It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush to get all the cattle in one spot,” she enthused.
Bliss is thankful to all those who came out and attended the sale, provided animals to it, and helped work it.
The next cattle sale will be held on Sept. 7, starting at 8:30 a.m.