Farmer Focus: 18 months of work culminate in bull sale week

It’s sale week at Mushrush Red Angus. We have been preparing for this for the past year-and-a-half (add nine months if you include the breeding decisions). 

It takes four trips to the chute (cattle crush) for mama to get AI’d.  Then each calf is tagged and pre-conditioned (weaned, vaccinated and grown).

We take birth weights, weaning weights, test bulls for intake and gain, take yearling weights, carcass test them, examine them for breeding soundness, clip them and then film them walking for the online viewers and bidders. 

Because of culling and bad luck, maybe half of the bull calves make it this far. The other ones go to slaughter, but because of the extra work, these ones almost always lose money. 

See also:  9 tips on buying a bull and getting him off to a good start

Some ranches have a dedicated sale barn, but since we are a bit more practical we clean up the working barn closest to the bull pens and use it. That means we spend hours cleaning, fixing and moving everything – all for a day. 

Mom will tell me 1,000 times to put something “where it belongs.” The answer is always the same – it belongs in the barn. 

We have a steak dinner the night before and another lunch the day of the sale. There can be 100 people the night before and 300 customers and friends the day of the sale – the meals on their own take a lot of work.

I love the cow work, but the sale is miserable. We are going to sell 200 bulls, whether I like the price or not. I will smile while my future plans for the ranch go up in flames and I cancel my vacation.

Or maybe it will go well. Then I can’t smile because everyone will be mad at me for taking their money.

Either way, it will soon be over and we will deliver the bulls in the month of April. And, after that, it will be time to work calves and AI cows again so we can get ready for the 2020 sale.    

Daniel Mushrush is a third-generation Red Angus breeder in the Flint Hills. The Mushrush family runs 800 pedigree registered Red Angus Cattle and 600 commercials across 4,856ha, selling 200 bulls a year and beef through Mushrush Family Meats.  

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