The day I retrieved them emerson was having a livestock auction, and since i was there, with a trailer and had some room, I sat in on it. The portion of the auction that I got there was the "cull" portion. What was being auctioned were mostly older dairy cows, probably going for hamburger. It's part of the dairy industry, and most fast-food burgers have a major dairy cow component. The picture shows a typical cow. they're led through one at a time, sometimes in pairs, and bid on.
If you click on the picture for a larger version, you can see the price board -- the information on it is not for this cow, it's for the LAST cow. Once the cow is bid on, it moves through a door on the left, is weighed, and the totals are displayed on the board. What's showing right now is that the last cow auctioned weighed 1370lbs, was sold for 64.75 cents a pound, and that the total sale price for that last cow was $887 (1370 * .6475).
The mostly-black cow, above, is the cow that I purchased while I was at the auction. Here she's in the pasture next to the corral. I think that she's an angus-holstein cross. I believe angus because of the color and shape of the head and body; holstein because of the white. She's in pretty good condition. I spent $0.6425/lb for her 1100lbs, for a total of $706 for this cow. On the right is my holstein heifer. The new cow has a flatter back, smaller head and weighs more, probably 200lbs more. The black-and-white cow is my little holstein heifer that I'm raising as a family milk cow.
When you purchase livestock at auction you really don't know much about how it was raised, what it was fed, or how it behaves. This cow seemed in good shape, and has a dual purpose for me. 1) when I process my steers this fall my holstein will have a buddy, as cows do better with other cows, and if for some reason she doesn't work out, she'll be good eating.
Since I have no idea what she's been being fed, I'm going to watch her and make sure that she can handle grass. There's plenty of it to eat (I've got 4 cows on 10 acres) but if she's been being fed a prepared feed her rumen may not be up to it yet.
I'm lucky that there is a spring about 15' above the level of my pasture, so I was able to run a hose up the hill and get a good trickle out of it. I use that trickle to fill this 300 gallon trough for the cows. By doing that I can fence the cows off the stream, to preserve the stream bank and water quality. I'm not anti-salmon, after all. I'm just anti huge regulatory burdens.