A major advantage we have in East Texas is the availability of local livestock auction markets operated by professionals in cattle marketing. The local sale barn has plenty of buyers on hand and cattle are sold by competitive bidding. We have several sale barns in our area operated by folks that go the extra mile in getting cattle sold.
Don’t have a trailer for the haul to market? Or need someone to work your cattle? The local sale barn can line you up quickly with reputable folks. Most of our sale barns offer a variety of food, some just on sale day. Others are open most every day. The Anderson County Sale Barn in Elkhart also offers a farm equipment consignment auction monthly and draws lots of buyers and lookers.
Quite a change from “olden times” when our few sale barns were just a hangout for traders and sellers had no idea what their cattle were worth. I recall an old time cattle trader telling me that he wished my Farm and Ranch TV shows would not include local sale barn reports. His view was that the less the seller knew, the better his business.
These days cattle raisers with a computer can quickly see reports from local sale barns with the click of a mouse. The more we know about how cattle are selling locally the better off we are.
Way back when, some of our producers shipped cattle by trailer or rail to the central livestock markets in Fort Worth or the Port City Stockyards in Houston. The railroads would drop cattle cars at sidings along their route permitting cattle to be loaded and shipped to the big markets. But no more, Fort Worth is a skeleton of a livestock market and the Port City Stockyards is gone for good. Both markets sold thousands of cattle every day and sellers hired commission firms at the markets to sell their cattle. Those days are behind us—but the memories linger on!
Horace McQueen is a Southeast Texas farm and ranch columnist. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.