The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Fair Livestock Sale Averages Show an Increase over Last Year's Prices


July 17, 2019

Winner of the Reserve Champion Junior Round Robin Showmanship award, Madilyn Gruszie stands with her 2019 three year old shorthorn, Sugar, while Sierra Swank holds the lead rope on Sugar's calf.

With the Blaine County Fair in the books and other fairs close to follow, local 4-H and FFA youth are encouraging Montanans to support them and their livestock sales. Not only will such a purchase be cost effective, shopping locally has multiple additional benefits, provided a person understands farm to table computations.

According to a University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture publication, "How Much Meat to Expect from a Beef Carcass," the amount of meat actually available from a beef animal is a frequent source of misunderstanding between consumers, processors, and cattle producers. For a 1,200-pound animal with a hot carcass weight of 750 pounds, the dressing percentage is 62.50 and is calculated as follows: (750 hot carcass weight ÷ 1,200-pound live weight) × 100 = 62.50 percent.

The hot carcass weight (HCW) is the weight of the unchilled carcass in pounds after the head, hide and internal organs have been removed. For most cattle, the HCW will be approximately 60 to 64 percent of the live animal slaughter weight. However, the HCW can vary greatly from one animal to another.

It is not uncommon for the buyer of a live animal to say, "The dressing percentage of my 1,200-pound steer was 62.5 percent, but I only got 500 pounds of meat - where is the rest of my meat?" The calculation of dressing percentage is based on the HCW, which includes bone, excess fat and moisture loss that will not be packed and wrapped for home consumption. The HCW is not the amount of meat that the consumer will put in his or her freezer.

The amount of meat that is cut and wrapped for consumption will be much less than the live animal weight. A 1200-pound beef animal will yield a HCW of approximately 750 pounds. Once cooled, the carcass weight will be approximately 730 pounds. When de-boned and trimmed, there will be approximately 500 pounds of trimmed and deboned meat for wrapping and freezing. The meat yield then, is approximately 41.7% of live weight, 66% of HCW, and 68% of chilled carcass.

With all of these definitions, percentages and computations in mind, consumers can better understand meat yields and calculate their savings. The price of a steer at the Blaine County Fair's Livestock Sale averaged $2.91 per pound, which is up slightly from the 2018 livestock sale when the average price was $2.36. If expenses to have the animal butchered, cut, wrapped, and frozen are $750, the total cost of a home-grown steer would be $4,242 and yield approximately 500 pounds of meat for the freezer. To purchase that same meat at grocery store prices, a person can expect to pay much more.

Comparing these costs with prices at the grocery store for organic, grass-fed meat would prove that it is worth the cost to purchase a half or whole beef instead of having to buy mass produced meat from a questionable source at the grocery store. Depending on where a consumer shops, he/she can expect to save anywhere from $0.63-$11.63 per pound. So, for less than grocery store prices, for a healthier diet, and for typically tastier meat, Hi-Line residents can support a local 4-H or FFA member as well as a community butcher/meat processor while also knowing where and how their food was raised and processed.

According to area livestock producer Henry Gordon, often the barrier to this goal is that most people do not have such a sizeable sum available to pay up front. "I also find that a lot of people do not have a freezer. My story is once you have a freezer it will also pay for itself on the first beef you buy."

Although purchasing a half or whole beef all at once is a large investment, and one that requires a freezer, that purchase will save a lot of money and time in a year if a person relies on financial calculations for decision making purposes.

Giving people access to locally grown meat, market beef, lambs, and hogs were sold through the sale ring at the Blaine County Fairgrounds on Sunday, July 7 at 1:00. According to Shandel Fouts, who recorded the sales, "It was a good sale; our averages were up from last year. The number of pigs we had also increased this year, but lambs stayed about the same, and beef numbers were down a little bit. We had three pigs and one lamb get donated back and resold for the 4-H Foundation."

Lambs sold for an average of $3.37 per pound, up from $2.96 in 2018, and hogs sold for $4.00, compared to last year's price of $3.43 per pound.

Cody Arnold's Grand Champion market beef weighed 1405 pounds and was purchased by Bank of Harlem for $3.10/pound. The 1306 pound Reserve Champion market beef was owned by Alyssa Grusize and purchased by Frontline Ag at $3.00/pound. Two blue ribbon steers, however, stole top dollar status, being purchased for $3.50/pound. Duchscher Kapperud Nationwide Insurance bought Yelena Miller's 1287 pound steer, and Triangle Communications purchased the 1360 pound beef raised by Alyssa Schoen.

The Gruszies kept the livestock top honors in the family, with Madilyn selling her Grand Champion, 269 pound market swine to Richman Insurance for $4.00/pound and brother Kenneth selling his Reserve Champion, 273 pound hog to Bear Paw Livestock for $3.80/pound. However, Kruz Crowley's blue ribbon hog captured the highest price per pound when Moxley Construction paid $5.10 for his 244 pound market animal.

In the Market Lamb category, Wylee Simenson was the Grand Champion winner, selling his 129 pound animal for $2.70/pound to KelMac Angus. Reserve Champion winner, Hannah Richman sold her 136 pound lamb to Triple K Farms for a price of $2.90 per pound. Jen Elias paid the top price of $4.70/pound for Katie Tilleman's red ribbon lamb.

Another hot item at the livestock sale, Jessalyn Schroeder's 103 pound, blue ribbon lamb, was bought and sold four times. The market animal was initially purchased by Northwest Farm Credit Services for $2.90/pound and donated back to be resold. Helen Bucklin was the next buyer, purchasing the lamb for $2.10/pound. She also donated the animal back. Downtown Gardens then bought the lamb for $2.00/pound, again donating it to the 4-H Foundation. Finally, the Blaine County Journal purchased the animal for $1.70/pound.

Additional animals that resold included Alyssa Gruszie's 260 pound, blue ribbon hog. Montana Livestock was the initial buyer, paying $4.60/pound, but the pig sold again to Young Trucking for $2.90/pound. Gracie Skoyen's 252 pound, blue ribbon hog also resold to Triple K Farms for $3.70/pound after its initial purchase of $4.60/pound by Valley Furniture, who generously donated the animal for another round of bidding. A third pig, Koleman Anderson's 243 pound, blue ribbon winner, was purchased for $4.00/pound by Gordon Cattle Company and then resold for $3.00/pound to Jeff and Barb Sather.

Other results from the livestock sale can be found in the tables following this article.

Miranda Skoyen, a Farm Service Agency employee and 4-H mother, was especially appreciative of all the supporters of the livestock sale. "Thank you to all the buyers who showed up and supported the Blaine County 4-H and FFA youth. Thank you especially to Valley Furniture for buying and then donating Gracie's 4-H hog for resale with the proceeds going to the Blaine County 4-H Foundation. Thank you, as well, to Triple K Farms for purchasing her hog in the resale," Skoyen stated.

To generate additional revenue for the 4-H Foundation, Diana Maloney baked both an apple pie, which Valley Furniture purchased for $400.00, and a cherry pie, for which Chet Fouts paid $475.00. Proceeds for the pies and from any animal that is bought and then resold go to the Foundation, which not only funds scholarships for 4-H youth but pays entry fees to any state wide events.

All of this bidding and buying kept auctioneer Kevin Elias busy. Elias, who earned his certification in February of 2018 from Western College of Auctioneering with Class 244 in Billings, donated his time and talent in the interest of area youth.

Fouts reported that other volunteers on sale day included Lane Schmitt, Scott McIntosh, Keith Hanson, and Travis Buck who served as sale ring men. Daryl Mitchell, Sandy Miller, and Thelma McMaster served as consignment people, and First Bank of Montana functioned as the sale clerk. The 4-H Teen Leaders and Ambassadors were sale runners.

Gracie Skoyen, who earned blue ribbons for both showmanship and market animal and was called back for grand drive in showmanship with her hog, Herc, gets ready for the sale ring.

By the time the 4-H animals are sold through the ring, they will have been judged and run through the paces in the showmanship competition, another category in which the youth can strut their animals as well as their own handling techniques. Beef Showmanship took place on Saturday morning, July 5. Many of the youth started their morning at 4:00 a.m. by washing their beef. According to one 4-H mother, Trisha Gruszie, "Every year the competitors take the recommendations the judge suggests for improvement and implement them, and their dedication is paying off."

Alyssa Gruszie showed the Reserve Champion Market Beef, Grand Champion three-year-old with a calf, and Grand Champion Red Angus Project. Alyssa was also in the call backs for Senior Showmanship. Her younger sister, Madilyn was the Reserve Champion Junior Round Robin Showman and Reserve Champion three-year-old plus her calf. The youngest Gruszie sibling, Kenneth showed the Reserve Champion two-year-old year old pair.

Hog showmanship was held on Friday, July 5, at 8:00 a.m. and sheep showmanship took place at 1:00 p.m.


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