Times also tough in the ag industry

Another busy week in Rainy River District is behind us. Whew!
I spent one morning in “emerg” with my boyfriend/partner. He had cut himself on a cart at Wal-Mart last Thursday and ended up with a very nasty infection (so bad, in fact, that they were considering keeping him in).
He was so sick that I don’t think it would have even bothered him.
Luckily, a home care nurse will come out to his place and give him his medicine by I.V.
His injury really hits home that we need to be careful of what we are coming in contact with, and we all need to take the time to wash our hangs more frequently and thoroughly than ever before.
I sure hope he picks up over the next few days as this weekend is his annual hunting weekend. My brother, my almost step-son, and my boyfriend/partner will be off to find a big moose if all goes well.
My dad, meanwhile, will spend most of the week cooking for them—and they will eat better than we will be at home.
• • •
Saturday’s cattle sale at the Stratton yard went fairly well. The first sale was held on Oct. 1, 1960 and this past one truly marked our 50th anniversary.
Sadly, the prices are nearly the same as in 1960 (actually they’re not, but prices are poor all the same).
Times are very tough in the agriculture Industry, similar to our other main industries (forestry and tourism). The feed-lots guys are not buying cattle and without orders, our cattle are not worth much.
We are very lucky at the Stratton sales barn since we have a local feeder finance club, which really makes our local sale stronger.
Saturday’s sale grossed more than $800,000 but likely about half of this stayed right here in Rainy River District. This means half the cattle are staying and they will be buying from our local businesses.
At this sale, we also saw around 150 calves from our new “Rainy River Raised” program. It was nice to see that these calves did see a small premium on prices, too.
I’m planning to do some further calculating, but right now at my best estimate, I think we saw about a 10 cent/pound premium.
I know there are still lots of questions about this, but please take the time to find out the answers. I think it is going to be worth it.
The buyers are asking for these cattle—and are willing to take the time to buy them and separate them in their loads.
Meanwhile, most of us are vaccinating our cattle now; it is just a simple change to use a live vaccine (I’ve been using a live vaccine on my cows for number of years now).
The cost for me to use this vaccine is $4.11 per cow (I use Bovi-Shield Gold FP5 +VL5 and Ultrachoice).
The cost to vaccinate my calves this past spring was $2.38, using Vision 8/Somnus and Ultrachoice 8. The cost to vaccinate my calves this fall (three weeks prior to the sale) was $3.35, using Resvac 4/Somubac and Ultrachoice 8.
I’ve heard stories of how expensive it is to use this vaccine when, in fact, I think my vaccine bill has dropped.
The other part of our program is ensuring the calves are de-horned and castrated a minimum of three weeks prior to the sale, as well. I am sure most are doing this now.
We are using orange tags to identify them (contact me to place an order). We can get them in all colours, as well, but we are
sticking to orange for our “Rainy River Raised” brand.
It is simple, and I do think we are going to see a greater demand for these cattle.
The other thing I really notice that seems to bring a few cents more in the ring is large lots. The buyers tend to really sit up and take notice. The cattle look good in large lots, and they show a more consistent product.
We can do this now with our RFID equipment and I am hoping we can build on this at our sale. It may be a simple partnership with a neighbour, but we need to take a look at this.
We all need to go out after the sale and take a look at the buyers’ pens. You will see a nice uniform bunch of cattle in each one.
Now as sellers, we need to make it easier for them to feel these pens, maybe with one or two lots instead of 20 or 30.
Stay tuned as I will continue this story. In the mean time, however, give me a call or drop in if you would like to discuss this!

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