By Brandy Harrison
INDIAN RIVER — With steadily high prices, optimism in the beef industry has never been higher and all the excitement is attracting youth that are ready to invest, says Billy Elmhirst.
“The younger folks are more gung-ho and more anxious to stick their necks out. That should bode well for sale season,” says the Indian River beef farmer, adding that when quality has a payoff, instead of borrowing the neighbour’s bull or buying a throw-away at the sale barn, buyers start looking for valuable genetics that add pounds or increase live calves. “Now that there are dollars and cents to be made in livestock, they can go ahead and invest in a bull that’s going to add value.”
Elmhirst, who runs Indian River Cattle Company with his wife, Juanita, their children, Owen and Katie, and his parents, Grant and Mary, hopes that a stellar show season also boosts sales at his sixth annual bull sale.
The farm scored the champion Hereford female at the Canadian Western Agribition in Regina and premier Hereford and Simmental breeder and exhibitor banners at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
The low Canadian dollar will likely have a minimal impact, Elmhirst says. Bull buyers are usually closer to home, but he did have an Illinois farmer contact him about a bull.
“That’s one more than usual. Who knows? Maybe this year there will be some interest down there,” he says.
Foresters Falls beef farmer Keith Black agrees. The low dollar will likely have more impact in Western Canada, which is closer to the larger U.S. herds, he says.
While the winter months are prime time for both purebred and commercial beef farmers to scout bulls for their breeding programs, interest may get a boost coming off a few good years.
“Last year, we had a much easier time selling bulls than we’ve had for quite a few years,” says Black, who runs Blackbern Farm with his wife, Karen and his children, Tyson and Courtney. “People that remained in the industry are in a position to make a bit of money. It’s a good time to get new bloodlines in their herds.”
Buoyant meat bull prices also saw older bulls shipped, leaving a gap in some herds, adds Black.
Here’s a roundup of some of the upcoming sales in Eastern and East-Central Ontario.
Feb. 27 to 29: Annual Online Bull Sale at DVAuction.com, with closing bids at Bar 5 Stock Farms Ltd. in Markdale.
March 5: Bred Cow Sale starts at 2 p.m. at the Kawartha Lakes Community Sale Barn in Woodville, featuring 22 Charolais cows.
March 5: Annual Bred Heifer Sale starts at 1 p.m. at Preston and Terry Cull’s farm in Douglas, featuring 5 Black Angus and 70 Charolais crossbred first or second calf heifers.
March 12: Benchmark Bull Sale starts at 1:30 p.m. at Renfrew Pontiac Livestock, featuring 24 Charolais and 3 Simmental yearling bulls.
March 12: Source for Success Bull Sale starts at 1 p.m. at Indian River Cattle Company, featuring 25 bulls and 10 heifers including black Simmental, Hereford, Angus, Charolais, and Limousin cattle and 4-H prospects.
April 9: Eastern Select Bull and Female Sales starts at 1 p.m. at Hoards Station Sale Barn in Campbellford, featuring 24 Charolais Bulls, 3 Red Angus, 4 Simmental bulls, and a limited number of Charolais females.