Final cattle sale closes another strong season

Sam Odrowski

The final cattle sale of 2018, which took place Saturday at the sales barn in Stratton, brought a close to another great season.
The farmer owned and operated livestock auction saw 669 head of cattle fetch just under $650,000.
The five sales of 2018 generated close to $7 million from the 6,273 animals that went through the ring.
“We sold quite a few head this year,” said sales barn volunteer Kim Jo Bliss.
“We’ve been getting really good feedback on our cattle and we had a pretty successful season,” she added.
“I think everybody should be pleased.”
Saturday’s auction saw hardy cattle reel in great prices due to the quality of the animals and size of the sale.
“The good cattle, as always, get good money no matter what,” Bliss noted. “And sometimes at a smaller sale like this [one], there’s a little more need for buyers to purchase because they want to go home with a truckload.
“The demand can be a little bit higher when there’s less cattle to choose from,” she reasoned.
Several factors determine good cattle, such as genetics, breed, appearance, hair, legs, and having a solid hind end as that’s where the high-quality cuts come from.
“You got to think what they’re going to look like on someone’s plate,” Bliss remarked.
Weather certainly has played a factor in the November sale, with frigid temperatures keeping sales barn employees and volunteers busy making sure the cattle’s water is thawed.
“It’s definitely more challenging for us as it becomes winter,” Bliss said. “The staff has to work extra hard to keep the animals watered and fed.”
It’s not always easy locating a team to handle the fast-paced environment of the cattle sale, but Bliss noted those who show up each time and take charge have reduced that challenge.
“It’s just an amazing group of people who show up and work very hard, and not always in the greatest conditions,” she lauded.
“We wouldn’t be able to market cattle without the people who show up.”
Those who work the sale put in long hours, with their shift extending far past when the final head of cattle gets sold.
“When the sales over, we’re not done,” Bliss stressed. “All that cattle has to be shipped out.
“They all have to be brought in and sorted out.”
And even though thousands of cattle are sold through the sales barn, a majority of the animals raised in Rainy River District are sent off in cull cow loads to Steinbach, Man. or Guelph, Ont.
Bliss, meanwhile, always has been drawn to cattle and attended Stratton’s livestock auctions for as long as she can remember.
“When I was a little girl, like really little, I would just dream about working at the cattle sale,” she recalled.
Since 12 or 13 years of age, Bliss has worked the sale and enjoys being a part of the farmer-owned operation that allows the district’s producers to sell their cattle locally on such a large scale.
“It is very rewarding because it’s hard work, so it feels good when you get it all done, things go well, and all the numbers balance,” she smiled.
The next cattle sale will be held in mid- to late April, with an official date to be set at next week’s meeting of the Rainy River Cattlemen’s Association.
Bliss would like to thank all who volunteer, help, and attend the cattle sales, noting they wouldn’t be what they are without all the great people who show their support.