Billings Livestock Sales, PAYS to hold special feeder calf, weigh-up sales
October 13, 2017
A few small changes could make a big difference for Billings area producers and salebarn employees.
Joe Goggins, whose family owns both Billings Live Stock Commission (BLS) and Public Auction Yards (PAYS), both of Billings, said that this time of year can put a serious strain on the staff, and he's hoping their schedule changes will make life better for everyone involved.
The two barns have their own office staff, but share yard crews. The changes will make for a little less stress on the crews, the brand inspectors, veterinarians, and others.
From October through February, BLS will focus on feeder cattle on Thursdays while PAYS will focus on feeder cattle Fridays.
“Most of Montana is short of feed, although the Yellowstone Valley, where they irrigate, has a lot of feed. The eastern Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, there is a lot of feed there, and those feeders are looking for calves.”– Joe Goggins
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BLS will focus on weigh-up cows and bulls Mondays, while PAYS are selling weigh-ups on Wednesdays.
"During the fall of the year, especially, at both PAYS and BLS, we've had a lot of days selling way past midnight, then start up again early in the morning. Like today (after the change) we're done at around 7:30. That allows everyone to get home, get some sleep, see their kids. It helps everyone." Goggins said that, while accidents are rare, the injuries that do happen tend to be after dark.
A few members of the younger generation – Joe's son Greg Goggins, son in law Corey Schultz, and nephew Bill Cook are "grabbing onto things really quick," said Goggins, and the new schedule will give the supervisors the ability to be where they need to be at the right time, particularly when Goggins himself is busy at an offsite bull sale and unable to be present for the sale.
Ty Thompson, who manages both barns, said the change will help to better utilize each facility, too.
While the barns previously would sell cull cows and bulls the same day as calves, the managers are now hosting sales that are focused on just one or the other.
Although ranchers sometimes like to haul their cull cows and bulls at the same time as their feeder cattle – sometimes they can fill out a load this way – Goggins hopes that consigners will consider bringing weigh-ups on the days designated for them. The buyers prefer it, too, he said. The barns will continue to sell most classes of cattle on sale days to accommodate everyone, but they are hoping to streamline the consignments as much as they can. "People can bring any class of cattle any time. But if it works for their schedule, we would like to direct them to certain days," said Thompson. "It's also going to be better for the buyers. Feeder buyers like to be just at a feeder sale. It makes for a better feeder market."
The change, implemented earlier this month, has already worked well, Goggins said.
"The cow market has been extremely strong," said Goggins. The calf market Oct. 12 was five to ten dollars higher than the week before, he said, adding that six-weight steers were selling "in the high $1.70s" per pound while 350 to 400 pound calves were worth $2.20 to $2.40 per pound.
The fall run is happening two to three weeks early because of the drought, but the market is strengthening, and feed is readily available outside of the drought area, Goggins said.
"Most of Montana is short of feed, although the Yellowstone Valley, where they irrigate, has a lot of feed. The eastern Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, there is a lot of feed there, and those feeders are looking for calves."
Based on the spring calves they've sold so far, Goggins said it looks like the heavier calves are demanding a premium.
Video sales held once per month will not be affected by the change. F