That's a lot of bull

By Geoff Lee

February 2, 2016 11:49 AM

A ranch hand controls the first of 409 bulls for sale at the M.C. Quantock Liveststock auction Saturday at the Lloydminster Exhibition Grounds.

Bull prices were strong again at this year’s M.C. Quantock Livestock Corp. breeding bull auction.
About 500 cattle ranchers from all over Western Canada poured into the Lloydminster Exhibit Grounds Saturday, happy to bid on bulls to build up or improve their herds.
The event also lived up to its billing as Canada’s largest bull sale for Quantock Livestock, owned by Mac Creech, who auctioned 409 bulls in eight different breeds.
Last year, the 361 breeding bulls sold at auction averaged about $6,000 per head.
Creech couldn’t say what the average price per bull could be with the auction start just minutes away, but he was optimistic.
“We’ll live with whatever cattlemen can pay us, but it should be pretty good,” he said.
After the auction, Creech said prices are a little off from where they were a year ago.
“But they should be steady (because) the cattle industry is pretty good right now,” he said Monday.
In fact, he said prices from this year’s auction were in excess of $6,000, prices comparable to 2015.
“We try not to release the annual average until we’ve got our news release all set to go,” he said.
Retail beef prices (reported by Statistics Canada) have also been relatively stable since June 2015.
However, as wholesale prices have come down in the last five months,  industry analysts expect retail prices to soften at some point in 2016.
Creech noted rising beef prices are all about supply and demand, with demand up after being on the down side for most of the last decade.
“We don’t have the amount of cattle to produce the amount of beef that people want to eat,” he said.
While most beef produced in Canada is consumed in Canada, the industry does export beef to countries like the United States, Japan, Korea and other offshore markets.
Creech runs what he calls a breeding stock sale to Canadian cattle ranchers.
“The bulls we sell are going to other ranchers to be the sires to produce calves which will then be sold to the feedlots for meat,” he explained.
Ranchers bid on Red Angus Bulls, Black Angus Bulls, Red Super Baldie Bulls, Black Super Baldie Bulls, Hereford Bulls, H-2 Bulls, Super Guppie Bulls and Charolais Bulls.
“We sell a lot of Angus and Angus hybrid bulls which are popular,”’ said Creech.
Orest Dubelt, who had a herd of 30 cows on his Murnam Alta. farm, had his eye on an Black Angus bull to increase his herd.
“That’s all I have and that’s all I used to raise that is what my herd is made up of — Black Angus,” said Dubelt.
“I’ve bought from Mac a number of times — he’s got good animals,”
Philip Collinge, who looks after a herd of 250 cows 15 miles south of Lloydminster, said he had one bull breed in mind to increase his number of female cows.
“I’m looking at the Gelbvieh Red Angus cross sires,” he said.
“I’m working on the maternal string on our cow herd.”
All the breeds sold Saturday are bred and fed by the M.C. Quantock Livestock ranch, about four miles north of Lloydminster.
“We are not just middlemen,” said Creech. “We actually produce from birth right to two years when we sell them.”
In the past 20 years, his herd has produced in excess of $20 million worth of bulls.
Creech and his wife Pat raise about 100 cows on the ranch, with additional grazing land spread over a 150-mile radius of Lloydminster.
They’ve sold over 10,000 bulls and staged 46 bull sales over the years in a family business dating back about 100 years.
The January sale on the last weekend of the month is their only sale of the year.
“Our ranch and whole ranch crew spends the whole year working towards this day,” said Creech.
Typically, the auction sees one bull sold every 50 seconds from 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Creech joked they don’t make as much money at the Barrett-Jackson TV auto auction, but his bulls go quicker.
“If we’re going to sell that many bulls in an afternoon, that’s the speed we need to sell them at,” he said.
All of the bulls that sold Saturday will go back to the Quantock ranch where they’ll be fed until the spring, when they’ll be delivered to customers all over Western Canada.
One customer is Rob Owen, who has a herd of 80 cows in the Battlefords and was in the market for a Super Guppie or a Black Super Baldie to go with a Super Guppie he bought two years ago.
“I need a third bull because I’m going to run another pasture,” said Owen. 
“My herd’s getting old and I’m changing my colour ­­— I’m going more from red cattle to black,” he said.
“The Angus cattle — there’s less trouble calving — good mothers good bag and good feed I just went to try that.”

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