The fifth and final cattle sale of the 2019 season came to the sales barn in Stratton on Saturday where 1,015 animals went through the ring, generating just under $1 million.
Overall, numbers are up this year for the Rainy River Cattlemen's Association (RRCA), with roughly 400 more head of cattle being sold than in 2018.
“Quite truthfully, we had an excellent season and we're pleased with how everything went,” noted Kim Jo Bliss, long-time sales barn volunteer and RRCA member.
She said the cattle sales went well despite the small fire that burnt two pens at the barn in late September, reducing the capacity for cattle by roughly 400.
“Once the barn burnt there was definitely some challenges to figure out how we were going to get cattle sold and not delay . . . but for the most part, we did well and its because our community is so amazing,” Bliss explained.
“It was just pretty impressive how we were able to pull it off, really.”
The RRCA has applied for funding with the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and FedNor to help improve the sales barn for the coming year, since being effected by the fire.
Bliss said they already have conditional approval and are currently filling out the next stage of applications, with hopes of rebuilding early in the spring.
“We are pretty excited about what we're going to do and we're planning to build a barn-like the barn has been there for 60 years now and we're planning for the next 60,” she noted.
“It may not benefit all of us but we want our kids and grandkids to benefit from this so we're hopefully going to put in a top-notch facility and that is exciting.”
For a while the RRCA has struggled to decide how it could make things easier with the existing sales barn for putting cattle through the ring.
Bliss said the fire has eliminated that struggle, as they now have the opportunity to address some layout and organizational challenges as they rebuild the barn.
“We're kind of hoping we can look at a redesign of how cattle come into the ring and even our scale system,” she explained.
“We may end up having to do something in two stages—do project one and then project two—but it's just going to depend on what the costs are looking like.”
Meanwhile, prices at the recent sale were good but some cattle earned less at times, according to Bliss.
She said prices dropped significantly for cull/cows, which is due to the market softening, level of demand, and time of year, as they tend to sell at higher prices during BBQ season.
“The market softens as more cattle enter the market, so there's more cattle getting in all auction barns across Canada," she remarked. "When there's more available the prices often drop.”
Bliss meanwhile, noted that the sales barn plays an important role for local farmers.
“It's a really good option for people to market cattle at home, with less transportation, it's just a really good option for you as a producer,” she explained.
“That is why the barn was built, we feel like we're serving a good purpose and the money is spent here-it's just good for the whole district.”
Bliss said she's thankful to all the producers who continually sell cattle through the sales barn and staff who contribute at each sale.
“We're so happy to have that and we have just a great bunch of staff who show up and take time out of their own life because it's more-less a glorified volunteer job and we really appreciate everyone that works with us,” Bliss enthused.
“It's quite a nice little family there.”