How not to Buy Cattle

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Haggis, Nov 24, 2004.

  1. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    I am by nature a trusting soul. Herself says that I was born with a birthmark on my forehead that reads; "Free Money Here."

    I was trusting in that the 9 head of registered American Milking Devon cattle that I bought in the Spring were healthy. I was trusting in that the cattle that I bought were bred. I was trusting in that the due dates for calves were correct. I was trusting in that the registration papers for the cattle would be along shortly. I was trusting in that the person who sold me the cattle would stand behind their product.

    Today the last hope of any of the cattle calving this year was dashed when the final of 4 bred cows and a bred heifer bought and paid for as bred came into heat; she was supposed to be due in April.

    The nice lady who handles the registration papers up in New Hampshire tells me that I am not the only one who had trouble with the cattle aborting their calves, and that I am on the list of those searching for the registration papers.

    All in all, about $9000 tied up in as many cattle, hauling them, and feeding them the best feed I could buy to get them into shape. To most folks this is not much, and to me it's not the end of the world, but if there are folks out there about to buy a few head to enjoy during your retirement??? Buy from someone you know.

    I won't sell them if I can't find out what is ailing them; but they will likely end up as freezer meat or coyote bait.

    The only vet who does blood tests in our area is to call me this evening. Maybe he can clear up this aborting of calves; for a fee of course; and then if I'm lucky, no calves for next year again; just treatment, waiting, and more money.

    I need to find Herself a part time job to boost her teaching salary. :haha: :haha:
     
  2. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Good advice Haggis, I've followed your troubles for a while and do hope things come around for you. I don't think you should berate yourself because I'm pretty darned sure that each one of us has bought something we shouldn't have. I know that I fell in love with a heifer in Colorado and just had to have her, by the time I had her imported to Alberta, I had close to $3000 into her and I think when the dust settled I got one calf out of her and I kept her for much longer than I should have. The only good thing I did was can her so that if she ever did manage to reproduce, she couldn't pass on her bad genetics although I'm not so sure that her genetics were the problem, I know of others that bought from the same man and his beautiful, high bred heifers never seemed to produce once they cross the border into Canada. I took it as a lesson learned and made darned sure that I did learn the lesson.
     

  3. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Haggis, I think that the livestock industry will be the last bastion of the unregulated huckster (think horse traders). My Dear old Dad raised cattle for years. Him and his partner went all the way to Texas and bought a Santa Gertrudis bull form the King ranch. There was nothing wrong with the bull, but obviously it was not a good fit for our climate. My point is that my family learned that it is better to find a breed that has shown sucess locally from a local breeder with a good reputation. My dad did it by buying late calving cows from a nationally known Black Angus breeder. Nothing wrong with the cows, but the breeder did not want to deal with the drawn out calving season that inevetibly results from these late calvers. He got quality cattle for a good price, from people with a reputation for quality stock.
     
  4. paiger34

    paiger34 Member

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    Hello there

    These are lessons that one learns in the cattle business, sometimes expensive ones. One of the things that I do prior to paying for any bred stock is to have them preg checked. From your post it looks like some were pregnant. Were they checked by a vet ??? Were these animals vaccinated for Brucellosis?

    Sorry for your loss.

    Chris
     
  5. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    I talked to the vet tis evening and based on what he heard from me he thinks it is Bovine Trichomoniasis. He said ther is little doubt that the cows had it when they came here as my bull was too young to carry it and they were the first cattle to arive here this spring.

    He will be here on Wednesday, the 1st, to do palpations and start injections on those I will keep. The 2 1/2 year old bull has to go now; go to the freezer.

    At least now I can start to think about the future of the herd with some degree of optimism.
     
  6. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I have been there, done that, though I wasn't the actual chooser of the loser cattle (hubby did that part). I got stuck with caring for them.

    Lots of calving losses, of those that did calve. Lots of illness in the calves, lots of hard keepers, toothless wonders, etc. The whole batch was gone within a year, but it was an expensive lesson and one we still have not fully recovered from.

    There is a time to cut your losses and haul them to the sale barn for what you can get. You will probably never recover your initial investment and throwing good money after bad isn't a good idea either. I don't know if you are to that point yet, but it takes a wise person to know when to quit, bail out what you can and start over.

    Jena
     
  7. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    You're right Jena; and thanks.

    The vet said we can eat them so we will butcher three of the Devons, castrate the 7 month old bull for next year's beef, and sell the two 4 year old cows. The three heifers we will keep but they wil have to be AI bred the remainder of their lives as the disease is incurable. With yearly injections the disease can be kept under control but will never go away; so no more bulls around here, ever.

    Within the next week 5 of the Milkng Devons will be gone. The older Jersey cow, if she has the disease, wil have to be AI'd, but she has paid for herself either way.

    This was a hard blow, but "It rains on the just and the unjust." So I don't take to too personal; I'll still have a start of my Milking Devons and the offspring won't carry the disease.
     
  8. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Haggis, there is a difference in value if you do not have registation papers.

    Have you donsidered threatening the man with small claims court unless he coughs up those papers or refunds part of the money?
     
  9. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    I've postured a bit about a lawyer but the nice lady who sold me the cattle already knows me well enough to know that I would never take her to court; I'm a wimp when it comes to holding people accountable; except me of course.
     
  10. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    Haggis,
    It's a tough break, but you are going about this the wrong way.

    She sold the cattle with the representation of being pregnant, and also the implied warranty that they were breedable. With the bull, that he could breed as well. Were they pregnancy checked when you bought them? If not, did you pregnancy check them? Typically, when you buy an animal represented as bred and she is open, the buyer first tries to get her bred and then the seller can try to get her bred. ( I have hauled allegedly bred heifers back to seller after I preg. checked them and found them open and tried for 2-3 heats to get them settled.) After that, seller has an obligation to refund and take back animal or make compensation. I wouldn't posture about getting a lawyer, I'd go through with it.

    With the issue of the papers, milking-age animals should have papers. Did you ask to see them? Is this simply a matter of seller not wishing to pay transfer fees for papers (That's typically the seller's responsibility.) Call the breed association and get after her.

    She's not a nice old lady, she's screwed you and most likely others. If you think that taking a screwing with silent dignity is honorable, so be it, but you're just making it that much easier for her to get away with it again.

    When buying cattle, machinery, etc, I wouldn't' trust anyone. I raise and sell registered Holsteins, and I would never tell anyone to "trust me." All I've got is my reputation, and that's a lot more valuable than trying to screw someone.

    Do they have trichomoniasis (Confirmed vet diagnosis?) Bulls are the carriers, so unless the bull you bought bred them, he may or may not have it, but chances are all the bulls from that herd have it. I am no clear how those heifers would have contracted it unless the bull was in with them.

    Do you have other bulls on your farm? If not, then it's pretty clear where the disease got introduced. I wouldn't keep any of the animals, but before I went butchering them and castrating them, I'd get a lawyer and try to get at least my purchase price back on them, less any adjustment for net income from milk sales.

    In the future, I'd ask for SEVERAL references from previous buyers. Any legit seller will gladly provide them. You might also want to think about getting a nitrogen tank and learning how to AI, because when breeders to a lot of back-and-forth swapping of herd bulls, that is often the vector whereby diseases are introduced to your stock. Plus, you have to feed a bull 365 days per year.

    I'll give you some additional unsolicited advice: There are only something like 500 reg American/Milking Devons, and I think most of the semen available traces back to one farm in Vermont. That means a real thin gene pool. Second, nobody runs Devons in commercial dairies, they are a homesteader breed. As such, there is probably a lot of bull-swapping and not as much attention to herd health. Just something to think about. The supply of Milking Shorthorns is much greater and they'll give more milk and a better beef animal.

    I hope this gets resolved and that you have better luck in the future.
     
  11. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I agree with milkstoolcowboy and the only thing I can add to that is that you can register a complaint with the breed registry thus resulting in either removal from the registry or at the very least as blot on their record. Any that I have ever been associated with have a breeder in good standing or reputable breeder clause and it would be a shame for someone else to have to go through what you have if they don't have to.