Friday, April 1, 2016

Sight Unseen

            I took delivery today of a bull I bought sight unseen a  month ago. 
            The genetics of this bull will affect 20% of my calves for the next five years, and I never saw him before he was delivered this afternoon.  This prior post will give you a little background -  Bull Sale

            I bought this bull rather by accident.  It was the first bull sale of the season, broadcast live on the internet.  I only signed up and logged in to get an idea of what I might have to pay for a bull this year.  (Last year I paid $7,000.)  But the flyer did say that they would feed the bull until April first, and deliver him free.
            There were three bulls in this sale whose EPDs – Expected Progeny Difference – met my breeding goals.  (Again, I refer you back to Bull Sale for an explanation of EPDs.)  The first one was scratched from the sale for some reason; the second one brought $4200, and I wasn’t impressed with the volume of his hindquarters, which hold a majority of the meat.
            The third bull I had picked met all of my criteria:  He was moderately sized, would sire fertile daughters that calved easily and would stay in the herd, and his calves would deliver easily from the heifers to which I would be breeding him.  The sale description read:
For the cattleman out there that is looking for a sire group that has a great disposition loads of length, and that stand on great feet and legs, these Runaway calves are a must see.  We believe that Runaway mixed with our cowherd will have the ability to fix a lot of foot problems.”

            Our country is rugged, and we lose more bulls from the herd to lameness than any other reason.  I clicked my mouse on the Bid button,
            I could hear the auctioneer on my computer’s speakers as I watched a video of this bull walking around in his pen: “I have an internet bid at $2500 to start.”  My screen showed my bid of $2500, and “You’re In”.   
            Who’ll give me three, three, three, I need-a three, three, three; now give me three, three, three…
            How about twenty-seven fifty?  Seven and a half, seven and a half, seven and a half...”
                        Then the auctioneer stopped his chant to tell the crowd that this was a genuine “sleep all night heifer bull”, and bragged on his high numbers in Calving Ease and the Herd Builder EPD.
            (The ‘sleep all night’ refers to the practice of most ranchers in this country to make regular around-the-clock checks on their cattle – especially the first calf heifers who would be bred by this bull.  Instead, you could sleep, knowing this bull would throw light birthweight calves. )  (You can read more about calving here - Calving.)
            But no one else raised their hand or clicked their mouse.  With no further bids, I had bought the bull.  That led me to second guess myself: why did no one else want this bull?  I was eager to have a look at him to see if there was something about him in person that wasn’t revealed in the videos.

            But now I have the bull.  He looks fine!  I was simply the only one at that sale who was looking for that kind of bull, and I got a good deal.