Shipping Season in Montana

For Montana cattle ranchers, it's shipping season—the time of year calves are sorted, weighed and shipped. It's a great time to celebrate all of the hard work of the past year, the camaraderie of the ranch community and of course one of the biggest paydays of the year.

Shipping Season in Montana

The air is crisp, the leaves have changed color, and it’s payday for Montana’s cattle ranchers. The shipping season, usually in October and November, is the time of year when spring calves are sold off and transported to sale barns or directly to feedlots. Typically the biggest paycheck of the year for producers, shipping season is a time to celebrate in the ranch community. 

Neighbors and friends come together to help sort cattle, get them weighed and loaded onto trailers—headed toward their new owners. With checks cut and another season of livestock production in the books, it’s time to chow down, enjoy a few refreshments and relax before starting the process all over again.

Cattle price negotiations often start months in advance, with buyers contracting their price per pound based on estimated weights for the anticipated shipping day. Calves are sorted into sets, usually being steers and heifers, then lights and heavies as applicable, then counted (multiple times), and weighed. Shipping day starts at first light—herding cattle into the pens and starting the process. Once the weight has been recorded and checks are issued, the cattle belong to the buyer upon a brand inspection by a State Official.

Cattle standing on a Montana ranch for sale

If the cattle are crossing state lines, veterinarians must inspect the health of the calves before they are loaded onto trailers to be transported to their next destination. Referred to as shrink loss, most calves will weigh less when they arrive at their final destination due to the stress of the journey. Once unloaded, the calves will be fed and gain weight for a year or more before they are considered ready for slaughter. 

Cheers to all the Montana ranchers this shipping season, the perfect time to acknowledge all of the hard work that’s been put in over the last year, celebrate with your community and to start planning for 2023. 

Looking to expand your cattle operation? Learn more about Western Ranch Brokers available cattle ranches for sale:

Schwenke Ranch

Schwenke ranch for sale in Montana
Schwenke Ranch Zortman, MT | 60,069± Acres | $7.95M

Schwenke Ranch is a classic Montana grass ranch in the heart of some of the most unspoiled areas of the Rocky Mountain West. This is cowboy country, where pastures are huge, and a rider can go 20 miles in a day…


Square Butte Ranch

Square Butte Ranch for sale in Montana
Square Butte Ranch Geraldine, MT | 3,469± Acres | $3.96M

Situated in the heart of C.M. Russell country, located just south of Geraldine, Square Butte Ranch offers ample water supply with a carrying capacity of 120± Animal Units. The ranch’s captivating rock formations sit in the shadow…


Contact Western Ranch Brokers for more information.

Western Ranch Brokers contact information

The information contained herein was obtained from sources deemed to be reliable. Western Ranch Brokers makes no warranties or guarantees as to the completeness or accuracy thereof.
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