Am I missing something - livestock auction?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Michael W. Smith, Nov 4, 2004.

  1. Michael W. Smith

    Michael W. Smith Well-Known Member

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    For the past 2 months, my father & I go almost every Wednesday to a local livestock auction. Mostly just to watch, but I did buy a buck goat to mate with my does.

    Anyway, lately I've been watching the calves selling as a coworker wanted me to watch for a Jersey heifer calf. Very few Jersey's show up, and what do seem to be mostly bulls. However, at last nights sale, there was a 46# Holstein calf (didn't hear whether it was male or female) that ended up selling for $.06 / pound. That is correct, someone paid a total of $2.76 for this calf.

    Most other Holstein calves sold for anywhere from $.30 / pound up to $2.60 / pound for heifers. My question is why did the 46# calf sell so cheap. It was up and walking ok. Now granted, most of the Holsteins were anywhere from 72# up to 116#, so yes, it was small.

    Was it a "runt" and most likely wouldn't gain weight as much as the others, something "wrong" with it that most likely it would die, or what? I understand getting anything from a livestock auction you are taking chances on buying a sick animal, or one that is unproductive etc. Or you can get a healthy animal that "picks up" something from the sale barn.

    Am I missinig something here on this calf that it sold so cheap?
     
  2. tobo6

    tobo6 Well-Known Member

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    Is that small enough to be bottle fed still? That might be the reason. I notice at the auction I attend that if the goats and calves are small enough to be on the bottle they go for little money, but as soon as it's big enough to go on feed the price goes way up.
    Around here dairy's bring in their day olds to sell. Nothing wrong with them, and they are healthy the dairies just don't want to raise them until they are old enough to breed. Plus, they don't want the boys, so there are a lot of them.

    Deb
     

  3. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I'd say it was just its small size more trouble to take home at half the price since better ones are not going to cost all that much even at 50 times the cost.
     
  4. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    Holstein calves often weigh close to a hundred pounds at birth, so yes, it was a bottle baby.

    I would say barring anything else obvious (hernia, scours) the size was probably the factor. You could expect a Jersey calf to be that small, but not normally a Holstein.

    Kathleen in Oregon
     
  5. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    At 46 lbs. the animal was most probably destined to be a dwarf. It may have exhibited the characteristics had you looked closely. Had it been just undersize, and someone thought that is may have a chance to grow and it would have brought more. The experienced buyers at the sales are savy as to what they buy. Therefore, they viewed the calf as NOT having any potential and it sold accordingly.
     
  6. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The sale barns here sell calves under 100 lbs by the head, and over 100 lbs by the hundred weight. In other words a 45 lb calf that sells for $6 costs the buyer $6. If a calf that weighs 200 Lb sells for $6 he will cost the buyer $12. Any calf that don't sell for more than $10 per head, or $20 per hundred weight is going to be on deaths door. Very few dairy heifer calves go to the sale barn, and when they do, they sell like gold, unless they are death warmed over.
     
  7. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

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    If you buy enough calves you start to be able to tell the ones that were just loaded on and never even got a start of colostrum. Unless you have some colostrum in the freezer you most like would end up losing the calf.

    Your friend looking for a heifer calf might better just go to a respectable breeder and buy one rather than one that has been run through the auction barn. My experience with the heifers going through the auction barn is mostly they are freemartins (twin to a bull calf) and are only good for meat raising.
     
  8. Michael W. Smith

    Michael W. Smith Well-Known Member

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    mljjranch, all these calves would be less than 2 weeks old, so yes, all of them are bottle fed. My question is why this calf would go so cheap in that even the "dealers" didn't want to bother with it.

    I know some of the calves you want to stay away from are the sickly "looking" ones, ones that are lethargic, ones that have diarhea, etc.

    Even if you would buy this calf, even if it died, you would only be out $2.76. It seems that any calf that is smaller than the others sells for alot cheaper than the other ones.

    There also seem to be certain calves that look healthy enough to me, but even the dealers hardly bid on them, and if they do, they for for less too, even though they are as big or bigger than the previous calves.

    Is there something special that they are looking at?
     
  9. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Why not asked the dealers? I suspect they would be willing to tell you what was wrong (bidding wise) with an animal.

    That $2.76 calf may end cost the buyer far, far more to raise to weaning weight than a larger calf, particularly when the cost of any medications are considered.

    Ken Scharabok
     
  10. tobo6

    tobo6 Well-Known Member

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    Michael-I don't know how your auction is run, but the one I go to has it so you can preview the animals in the stockyard first. Hang out before the auction there in front of the pen that has an animal that interest you and when others come by you will hear then discussing the animal. Some of the old timers will darn near talk your ear off if you ask them questions, lol. Also, you can find out what dairy or what farm brought the animals. Sometimes you can find out their reputation on their animals, which helps. I haven't bought any cows yet, but I am trying to work my way up to getting some.

    I have bought pigs there. I have never had pigs and didn't even know the breeds that were best. I lucked out and one of the pig buyers who was attending sat by me and educated on what I wanted. We just had them butchered recently and our butcher said they were the nicest hogs he has butchered in a long time, so I felt like I did good and will be getting more pigs after the holidays when they are going cheap.

    If you want to get a cow, I'd go for it at that price. If it didn't work out you wouldn't be out much, or you could fatten it up a bit and take it back and sell it just to get some experience. :)

    Oh, the auction here also has a vet on site so if you buy a cow they ask you if you want shots too. It's better to get the shots there so they start off good and its more convenient. Doesn't cost much either.

    Deb
     
  11. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if it had that just-born look -- like a balloon with no air in it yet -- or a wet umbilical cord; swollen knees; teary eyes or runny nose; hunched back; breathing hard; manure-painted tail and hind legs ... or just too small to mess with.

    Might have been jsut too small to mess with.

    We took in a group of sale barn bottle calves to help out a neighbor (long story) and they got off to a really rough start. I think a couple are going to turn out great, several are going to be OK and one looks like death warmed over, still, poor little guy (not from lack of trying on our part!)

    Ann
     
  12. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Heh, there was a time a couple of years ago where the local Jersey dairies were driving up and leaving the bullc alves on the dock of the slae barn rather tahn waste the 15 minutes to get their information in and the check show up for $0.00 after the Sale Barn took it's fee.

    There are some interesting theories put forth by this group so far.

    If you are buying a heifer dairy animal I would urge you to go to a breeder/farmer or a sale where heifers are common place. Otherwise you will probably end up with a freemartin.
     
  13. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Holstiens are a bigger breed, that is extremely small, I would be real scared of it.

    One reason so small is it could be a twin, if it was a hiefer with a male twin it's a freemartin so no good to the dairy industry, & so tiny hard to gamble on it for trying to feed.

    --->Paul
     
  14. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    Its probably a stunted bull calf or a freemartin, either way the gamble for beef isn't worth the feed, being a Holstein and it being either undersize or too young is likely why its being underated.
    I agree with posts that discourage buying animals for a home farm from an auction, generally they sell off culls, they may come from genetic backgrounds that have serious problems, and will have health issues the entire time you own them.
    I would recommend you buy from a known source such as a local friendly farmer, such as some of the old boys you meet at these auctions. Just like anything else its "Buyer Beware".
    I once bought a Hereford steer that looked perfect, but six months later he had continuing abcess and infection problems that made just keeping him a cost drain, once that starts to show they are a problem, you'll never get anything for it at an auction, and nobody else will want it, a loss all around.
    Even selling it butchered is high risk to your reputation.
     
  15. Bluecreekrog

    Bluecreekrog Well-Known Member

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    Ok, I'll bite. A freemartian is bad because?
     
  16. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    With a male/ female twin in cattle, the female picks up some male hormone during development, and has a less than 10% chance of being able to breed/ milk.

    --->Paul
     
  17. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    To explain Freemartism even further (I almost did a presentation on this subject). In male/female twins in cattle they share a lining and blood in the umbilical cords. During that very important stage of development when testoterone is released for the forming male, that testoterone ends up in the blood being circulated between the two umbilical cords and the female ends up being dosed with it, so she develops male characteristics and has a very low chance of being fertile. I think it is even lower than 10% now.
    You can usually tell freemartins when they hit puberty. They look very bullish and act even moreso. Thumbelina was born three weeks early and we still don't know if she had a twin or not. At one point dad figured she was a freemartin because she has a huge thick neck and a large head. However, she had her second calf, Nessie, this past year so she obviously is not. We also have another heifer (not a twin) who is very bullish, but she is also cystic.

    There are dairies that sell their heifer calves rather than raise them theirselves and these would have good genetics. I think they usually have heifer raisers that buy them, though I am not sure how that all works. We raise our own replacement heifers.
     
  18. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    or it may have been $2.76 for 20 pounds of veal


     
  19. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

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    yeah that was my thought, either a freemartin or sold for slaughter, good food for darn cheap , that small and holstein wouldnt be worth raising to adulthood

    nice hide too, easy to tan young calf hide ....