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Sales barn finishes year with extra sale

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After an extra sale was added in 2017, the cattle sale season at the Stratton sales barn is now over.

Saturday's sale dealt with some less-than-ideal weather conditions but still managed to see 698 cattle go through the ring, selling for a total of $799,567.97.

“I didn't expect this many head this late in the year, which was good because we had some really good prices,” sales barn manager James Gibson told the Times.

The decision to have a fourth sale this fall was made following the results of a survey last year, but there was some concern once the cold set in earlier and worse than expected.

“We had a couple of mishaps but already we have plans to make it better if we do a later sale again,” noted Rainy River Cattlemen's Association board member Kim Jo Bliss.

“It might have been a bit cooler sitting and watching the sale,” she conceded.

“But other than that, it was just hard for the workers because it was so mucky and slushy in the pens.”

The Nov. 4 sale actually was the fifth of the year. It followed the spring sale on April 22 and then the three other ones on Aug. 26, Sept. 30, and Oct. 21.

Overall, the Rainy River Cattlemen's Association had 4,930 cattle go through the ring at the Stratton sales barn in 2017.

A few groups of cull cows also were sold through the sales barn although not during regular sales dates, which put the total number sold somewhere around 5,000.

“I think it was worth it to have the fourth fall sale and, overall, I'd say we had a really successful year,” Bliss said.

“It's impressive because guys are calving later and later, but the weights are still good,” she added.

“It's good genetics.”

Gibson said 2017 had the largest number of cattle in the four years that he's been manager.

“It's been a good year overall,” he reflected.

“We had good weather up until this last one, but it has actually been one of the driest years,” he recalled.

One major draw for producers thinking about selling through the sales barn is having good buyers—something the RRCA was lucky with this year.

“We had 11 front-row buyers there on Saturday, and we have had either nine or 10 at each sale this year,” Gibson noted.

“It makes a big difference having lots of buyers there,” he remarked.

“You don't want too many but you definitely don't want too few, either.”

Bliss said the board most likely will hold four fall sales next year, as well, but it may have to shuffle the dates around a bit.

One problem was that the last two sales were only two weeks apart, which makes it difficult to get organized between and get the sales barn cleaned.

Producers holding their cattle over until the next sale to gain a few more pounds don't really have time to make it worth it, either.

Bliss said they would have had a longer gap but didn't want to hold a sale on Remembrance Day this Saturday, and the next weekend definitely would have been too late in the year.

But the success of the extra sale, and the year as a whole, means the RRCA will do it again—after doing some annual maintenance around the building.

“The barn needs to be cleaned out and everything should be tidied up, so next summer we are going to need a big day of work,” noted Bliss.

“We'll also do some work to the water system and fix up the pens,” echoed Gibson.

“There are still a few wooden ones that I would like to change into steel pens,” he said.

But getting that done shouldn't be too much trouble as both Gibson and Bliss cited the wonderful help they get around the sales barn, both during and between sales.

“There is a good group of people that want to be here and really do good work,” Gibson lauded.

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