Island farmers again have local sales barn as livestock auction outlet

ASSIGINACK—So far, upwards of 70 head of cattle have been booked in for the first spring sale of the new Manitoulin Livestock Exchange to be held Friday, April 26.

The Manitoulin Livestock Exchange, comprised of Dave McDowell of Assiginack and Dean Millsap of Evansville, has its sales barn at the property of Mr. McDowell on Sim’s Road, just south of Manitowaning on Highway 6, the former Al Frank farm.

“There’s been lots of talk of getting it (cattle sales) going again, but nobody was willing to jump in and do it, so we did,” explained Mr. Millsap. The last cattle sales barn, Little Current Sales Barn, was owned and operated by the late Jack Orford.

While close to 70 cows have been booked in for sale, the Evansville farmer said he believes the weather is playing a factor in farmers not wanting to move their cattle, “but it’s coming.”

“If things works out, we could do herd dispersals too,” Mr. Millsap added, noting he and Mr. McDowell are also thinking of adding equipment sales to their list of offerings, which would coincide with the cattle sale dates. “We’ll just get the first few sales under our belt.”

Mr. Millsap said he understands Island farmers are pleased to see “something up and running again. It’s going to take a couple of years to get it going, though,” he added.

This isn’t the first sale for the Manitoulin Livestock Exchange, however, as a December date was held with great results.

“We sold them on the dollar had as high as 965, but were typically within the 750-950 range,” Mr. Millsap explained. “We had a good response that day. They got as good, or better, than they would have got down south.” A Manitoulin sale also saves on trucking costs, which means more money in the farmer’s pocket, he added.

Mr. Millsap said he and Mr. McDowell are open to all suggestions for sales, even sheep.

For now, the Sim’s Road sales barn will act as a depot for meat cows before they are shipped to southern Ontario, as there are simply not enough here. “We’re probably going to do some bulls in one of these sales this spring too, and in the future we’ll probably have a bull sale,” he continued.

The Friday, April 26 sale will begin at 10:30 am on the McDowell farm on Sim’s Road and lunch will be available. Auctioneer Kevin McArthur of Orangeville (who also acts as an Ontario Stockyards auctioneer and cattle dealer) will run the sale.

The Manitoulin Livestock Exchange is also fully licenced as a tagging facility and has all the proper legal documents and bonds to run the sales, Mr. Millsap assured.

As well as the April 26 date, sale dates for May 17 and May 31 have also been set with more planned for the fall.

Should all go well, the pair hopes to see a dedicated sales barn built down the road.

For more information, or to book your calves, yearlings or bred cows, contact Mr. Millsap, 705-282-6283, or Mr. McDowell, 705-859-1944.

Alicia McCutcheon