Chapter 033: Buying cows
Translated by me, edited by Kai.
“The cows auctioned here generally fall under three categories. Bulls, small herds and special herds. If you guys are looking to buy, then you can do so here. The cows I have tend to be a bit worse than those sold here.” Leymann said as he sat down in one of the auction seats.
Hearing this, Jiang Hai turned to Robins for an explanation. Out of the 3 types, he only knows what a bull is. These are male cattles left “intact” for breeding purposes (1). But what are the last two groups?
“Small herds refer to low numbers. For example when some family farm stop wanting to raise cattle, then they will send them here to be sold. Generally these cattle counter are under 100, hence this category, they also can be either bought separately or together. Special herds refers to those special cows.” Robins explained. In America, the most commonly raised cattle is of course their favourite. Angus.
This breed has no horns, can endure course feeds, and is said to be the world’s best beef cow. A mature male one weighs from 700 to 1100 kg. A female one ranges between 500 and 800 kg. Gentle nature, daily weight gain of roughly 1kg, nice marbling in all the cuts, with a high meat output of around 60-65% results in being well-received in America. Apart from this breed, Brahman, Charolais, Hereford and Piedmontese are also well received in America. These cows tend to have a very high butcher rate. Compared to these fine breeds, the cows in China falls miles behind.
The most famous in China should be the Luxi cattle, Qinchuan cattle, and Nanyang cattle. But these breeds have a very low butcher rate. If it can reach 50% meat output with all the bits and pieces then you just got lucky. These cows originally weren’t raised for eating but be used as oxens in the field. If you’re talking about strength or attacking power then these breeds completely outclass the one in America and Europe, but if it’s quality and quantity then they lack far behind.
The key lies with the near 15% difference. Meat quantity from 100 heads in America can match if not surpass 115 heads from China. The other key factor is the population density of America. The 9.8 million square kilometers for less than 325 million people, there are tons of land that can be used for ranching, but this is not possible in China.
High population level leads to low concentration of ranches. Add on the poor breeds and obstructions of fence construction, if prices for beef are still low, then something is really wrong. Although people have thought about importing in breeds, but this was banned by the central government. Those already imported in limousin and simmental cattle has a really hard time breeding, resulting in hard expansion of the industry. Currently China much more prefer to raise milk cows for the same reason.
“Next up are the bulls.” Robins said after a quick introduction. Currently the first round of auction is already over. In the wake of the auctioneer’s words, the first bull walked up. This one is clearly bigger and stronger than the ones Jiang Hai is thinking of.
In the animal world, everything follows the laws of nature. Therefore to be a bull, the first criteria they have to meet is their size must be big. These bulls put up for auction are all the best of the best. Hence their size is way bigger than the norms.
This is a charolais weighing in at 1211kg. Seeing this strong frame and limbs, you need at least 3-5 people to handle him when he goes mad. But charolais are well known for their gentle temper. “Just like their french ancestors, gentle till the end.” The auctioneer joked and was received by a round of laughter from the cowboys.
What he is talking about is during WWII when the French got defeated by the Germans, they kept on their romantic and comfortable living instead of resisting. This was really an awkward situation for the allies, but to say this in America is also not a smart idea. Because most of the Americans are all descendants of French and English colonists. Actually there is something that Jiang Hai is not aware of. After colonizing America, the French and the English never had a period of peace. Why is Boston situated in a region called New England? That is because the people here are mostly of English descent so they love making fun of the French.
“Do we need him?” Jiang Hai asked Robins as he examined the bull quickly.
“Our ranch is going to mainly raise Angus because there are only the Angus and Brahman near Boston with the numbers we need. If we bring that bull back then there is definitely going to be a lot of disturbance and the quality of the meat when butchered will also suffer.” explained Robins.
Hearing this, Jiang Hai sat back and watched the auction continue; after all it’s not like he knows anything about ranching. Although they don’t want it, others do. In the end, this bull was sold for a wooping $3200. Normally, a head of cattle is worth around $1000 when sold in herds.
The next couple of bulls are of charolais, hereford and piedmontese breeds. When it was the piedmontese turn up, Robins clearly is agitated because piedmontese is a very well off breed. They are not known their their meat, since they produce very average meat both in quality as well as in quantity. They are really famous for their hides. A whole sheet of mature cow’s hide can fetch $1000 easily. Of course the leather market is very limiting. This breed is also well known for their wild nature.
If it’s only a small group then it is easier to control, but if a large group of them go mad, then have fun and good luck, because you are going to need it. Hence, after some thinking, he quickly gave up on the idea.
Auctions like this are not just made up of bulls. After auctioning these bulls, there is the auction of small herds. This time on stage is not just a single head of cattle but 30 heads. All of these cattle are tagged but they are not hard to identify with their completely black hide.
“These are angus cattle, we can start joining in now.” Said Robins.
“Alright next up for sale is the herd belonging to Par’s ranch. We all know old Par is almost 70 and that he wants to retire. His only daughter will not succeed his ranch so these cows also must go. We all know how old Par raises his cattles, so there is definitely no problems with them. In total 30 heads. 1 bull, 23 cows with 5 already pregnant, and 6 calves under 1 year old. Now let us start the auction with the sale of the whole herd. If the resulting price does not meet Par’s expectations then we’ll auction them off separately.” Explained the Auctioneer.
Everyone who are in this line of business all know something about everyone. They clearly know of the old man’s skills so these cows definitely will sell. As such people are calling prices as soon as the auction began. Very quickly this herd of 30 is worth $30,000, but not even a minute passed before it grew to $42,000. Robins is also interested in them but suppressed he urges and waited for the right moment.
“$45,000” When someone called $44,900, Robins joined in by adding on another hundred.
“These cows are definitely in good condition. Those pregnant cows are probably going to give birth soon. In a year those calves can also hit the market. It doesn’t matter what the quality of this herd is since you are actually paying for 35 of them.” Burke commented.
“Of course, the main reason is Par’s raising skills. For these cows, it doesn’t matter if it’s male or female, they all have some nice marbling on them. Without incidents, it is very likely for them to produce top-notch beef. When the time comes, those beef profits will skyrocket for sure.” Philemon joined in after being quiet for the whole time.
Beef is separated into 8 grades in America, but the price for top-notch beef is expensive to the point of being cringe worthy. A pound of the finest beef is generally between 3 to 500 dollars. A head of cow, on average, weighs 800 kg or 2000 lbs. After removing the bones and what not, you are left with 1300 lbs of pure meat. Using the ratio of only 10% as prime grade beef, a pound of raw beef for $375, then 10% of a single head of cow is worth almost $50,000.
Once you add on all the other meats, choice at $100 plus a pound, select at $50 a pound, and standard for $6-8 a pound, then that is almost $100,000 for a good head of cow. Of course half of the profit is taken up by it’s best quality meat, but Robins really expect old Par’s cows to live up to this expectation.
However Jiang Hai is clearly in awe upon doing the math, but quickly recovered. Others can doubt him, whether his cows are going to lose money. But he himself is clearly confident. With the cooperation of his blood, these cows will have the best meat when slaughtered. Furthermore the quantity of the best quality meat available will most likely cause a small war.
1. for more information https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle