Guts, butts and nuts were on display and then put on the auction block at the first annual Palmer Charolais/Nielson Livestock & Cattle Co.’s bull sale.
Palmer Charolais held the March 5 sale on their farm hosting about 200 people for the sale and luncheon.
Before the sale, Davidson’s Gord Willner was looking over the bulls in the viewing pens. He was there to pick up another bull for his commercial herd. He had his eye on one of Palmer Charolais’ yearlings, a red-haired fellow born last January. He was also checking out a red-angus bull that Nielson Land & Cattle Co. had on offer.
Aside from bulls that are big and meaty Willner said he’s interested in such traits as calving ease and milk on the maternal side.
He expected bull prices at the sale to be good as farmers look for quality breeding bulls with which to expand their herds.
“Bob’s been in the charolais business a long time,” Willner said of connections and reputation Palmer Charolais has built these past 35 years since Bob and Monette Palmer began raising purebred charolais on their farm west of Bladworth.
Their nephew Velon Herback and wife Leah are continuing the tradition.
On the Angus side, the Nielsons have been in the cattle business for over 30 years, beginning with horned Herefords on their farm near Craik. In 1994 they introduced red angus into the operation, building up their breeding stock. More recently they added Black Angus by purchasing high quality Black Angus females from Mountain View Farms in Manitoba to provide the seed stock for their Black Angus breeding program.
This was the first on-farm bull sale for Nielson Livestock and Palmer Charolais.
The sale featured 33 charolais yearling bulls from the Palmers. The Nielsons had 23 black angus yearlings, 11 red angus yearlings and 10 angus open heifers on offer.
“For our first sale, it exceeded our wildest dreams,” said Larry Nielson. “It was wonderful to see all the local people there, not just to view, but they were buying too.”
Nielson said they had thought about having a sale for quite some time, “but we didn’t have the right numbers where we were ready to guarantee enough bulls to make it work.”
They typically sell bulls privately off the yard, as do Palmer Charolais.
Velon Herback said he put out the idea last year of having the bull sale, knowing it would be a lot of work. He thought it would be better for his customers.
“It gives everybody a chance at the same bull if they want it. Not everybody likes the same thing and everybody has a different price limit. At the sale, all bulls areavailable at the same time and it gives people a chance to socialize and have lunch,” Herback said.
He approached Nielson Livestock & Cattle Co about combining their purebred red and black angus with Palmer’s purebred charolais to give buyers a good selection of quality bulls to make an on-farm sale worthwhile.
“A lot of our customers run different breeds of bulls, many use red and black angus. By having a sale like this they can come and pick up all the bulls they need,” Herback said.
They contracted By Livestock out of Regina to conduct the sale.
At the start of the sale, sale manager Helge By, remarking on the size of the crowd, said, “It’s kind of fun being in the cow business again. Everybody wants to come out.”
All the cattle at the sale were housed in pens outside the shop on Herback’s farm. This gave potential buyers a chance to view the animals they were interested in. Some even climbed into the pens to have a closer look.
Inside the farm’s shop, bleachers were set up around a screen that displayed photographs of the bulls as they came up for sale.
They also treated their guests to a lunch of roast beef on a bun, macaroni salad and homemade pies.
Some people in attendance, like Davidson area rancher Graham Shearwood, were there to look, not planning on making a purchase.
Local farmers, looking to improve their commercial herds, bought many bulls.
Palmer Charolais’ RGP Remington, whom auctioneer Brent Carey described as possessing all “the power of the charolais dude”, fetched the top dollar selling for $8,250.
Herback said this bull was in the top end of his pen, but he has other bulls he likes just as well.
“Certain people are looking for different traits,” he said.
After the sale, Herback was very happy about how it all turned out.
While many local commercial cattle ranchers bought bulls from the Palmers and Nielsons, purebred breeders were also buying.
Herback said when breeders buy their bulls it is an acknowledgement of his family’s lifework in furthering the charolais breed. It means that Palmer Charolais cattle have traits that other breeders want for their lines.
The same is true for the Nielsons.
“I’ve got bulls going from Manitoba to southwest Alberta out of this sale. That helps with our reputation to get spread across Western Canada,” Nielson said.
He said the prices they received were great and they sold all their animals.
“We averaged very well.”
Nielson’s top bull sold for $7,250, which was very good, he said.
After the sale, Nielson was busy hauling the cattle back home to Craik where they will look after them.
“It’s better for us to feed them now when these guys don’t have somewhere to put them,” Nielson said.
Herback also prefers that the bulls stay with them until their new owners need them.
Palmer Charolais and Nielson Livestock are offering free board and delivery up to 300 kilometres from their farms. They are also working together to deliver the bulls to their new owners.
“When we can move all our bulls in one place, at one time, it stream lines everything and it frees up a whole bunch of time,” Nielson said.
He’s happy to be working with Palmer Charolais next year.
“It’s a good fit. They are great people,” Nielson said.
They’ve already set a date for next year’s sale. The Second Annual Palmer Charolais with Nielson Land & Cattle Co. Bull Sale will take place the first Monday in March 2013.
As for Gord Willner, he didn’t end up buying the red charolais, nor did he pick up the red-angus bull he’d been eying earlier.
“They were good bulls, but a little out of my price range.”
Perhaps he and the others who went home empty handed will have better luck next year.