“Our objective is to create a less stressful environment for cattle so they can be in a position to gain as many pounds as possible,” says Trever Mason of Northwest Cattle Feeders, which is located seven miles south of Ringwood, OK.
“We use that same philosophy at our stockyards,” Trever explains. “Our objective is to get some compensatory gain and enough weight on the cattle to offset the commission expense for our customers selling cattle.”
Trever and his family, along with a group of other investors, purchased the sale barn at Enid, OK, in May 2011. Northwest Stockyards, LLC (formerly Winter Livestock) was built by the Winter family in 1993 and owned by them until selling it to the Mason group.
This isn’t the Masons first experience with sale barns, though. They’ve got about seven decades of experience, beginning with Trever’s grandpa, Pat Mason. Pat owned and leased sale barns in northwest Oklahoma. That included ownership of the old sale barn in Enid (Enid Livestock) from the 1960s to the 1980s.
Pat and his son Kirk worked with the Enid barn until 1982 when they decided to sell it and begin a grow yard, the present Northwest Cattle Feeders. When Pat semi-retired from the grow yard, he went to work for his longtime friends, the Winters, in 1996. Pat died in 2001.
Now Kirk and his sons, Lance and Trever, along with their cousin, Otis Munkres, are carrying on the family’s sale barn tradition with Northwest Stockyards, a stand-alone business that’s also an integral component of the family’s business triad.
“We’re able to background cattle through our grow yard for customers and run those cattle on wheat and rye that we procure for customers,” Trever explains. “Ultimately, we can market some of those cattle back through the sale barn. We feel like these three enterprises are a perfect match to our business plan. And we feel like that’s how we’re going to be successful.”
Reduce the stress
With the weight focus of each enterprise, it’s no surprise to learn what sticklers the Masons are when it comes to reducing cattle stress. Consider the low-stress handling and low-stress facilities at their grower yard and sale barn.
The indoor processing facility at Northwest Cattle Feeders features a fully automated crowd gate and low-stress squeeze chute. The floors are even heated.
“With the new processing facility, we can just do a better job,” Lance says. “The nicer the facility is, the easier it is for the crew to process; they do a better job, it’s more sterile and there’s less stress on the calves.
“We have a really good crew, some of whom run their own cattle,” he continues. “Less stress on the cattle makes for less stress on the employees, too.”
One of the reasons the Masons expanded their grow yard a few years ago was so they could expand pens to increase the square footage per animal; the capacity here is about 4,000 head. Lance points out the sandy soil that runs about 60 ft. deep and low rainfall also contribute to less cattle stress.
As for the sale barn, it’s one of the most cattle-friendly facilities you’ll find. “We can unload eight trucks at a time if we need to,” Otis says. “When cattle go through here, they’re never standing around on trailers waiting.” Cattle have access to feed and water in every pen.
“If we can add pounds to the cattle that customers bring to sell, they can take advantage of the pounds through added dollars. That’s one way we’ll be successful in the sale barn business,” Trever says. “At the end of the day, pounds are what all of this is about.”