Numbers were high Saturday at the last sale of the year by the Rainy River Cattlemen’s Association, with about 1,450 head of cattle moving through the sales yard at Stratton.
Combined with the number of cattle sold at last month’s auction, more than 2,700 head have gone through the sales yard in the past three weeks.
A large number of young calves were featured at Saturday’s sale although several large yearlings also made it to the ring.
But prices also jumped from one lot of cattle to the next. Some calves fetched bids of $1.33/lb. while others barely managed to pull in $0.65/lb.
Cattleman Mike Neilson of Stratton, who sold 32 calves Saturday, said he was quite pleased with the price he received.
The calves promising bigger growth were getting the better prices, he added, noting those calves that were mostly grown weren’t as actively sought after.
But not everyone was pleased with the prices. In fact, a few farmers believed the prices for their cattle came in several cents/lb under what they should have been.
But Neilson believed the prices had little to do with the Stratton sales yard and more to do with the beef market itself.
"Earlier in the season, it was very strong. Right now, it’s fluctuating on the calves prices," he said.
"I’d say they’re fluctuating a bit right now," noted Bob LeBlanc, a local buyer north of Barwick. "Why is it that way, we don’t know."
LeBlanc bought 44 Hereford heifers at Saturday’s sale. He’s purchased some other calves this fall through private sales and has been checking prices at the Winnipeg market.
He said the wild cattle prices seem to be the norm everywhere right now.
"It just seems there’s a big lump of cattle come in and the buyers get pickier," he remarked.
The cattle were a little leaner this year, LeBlanc said, probably due to the dry pasture conditions throughout the district. But he also said that wasn’t a big problem among the buyers.
"I thought the quality of the cattle was excellent," he added.
LeBlanc also noted the Stratton sales yard was very important for the local cattle economy.
"It’s another outlet for market," he stressed. "We need all these different avenues. It’s very important."