RAMSAY, Mont. (AP) -- A nearly 3,000-pound Hereford steer that kept the herd in line on a southwestern Montana cattle ranch for nearly a decade has been sold for $1,670 at auction.

Owner and breeder Bill McIntosh of Avon watched the bidding April 27 at the Montana Livestock Auction in Ramsay, saying he hates to see him go, but he's got to be practical.

"The cattle market is about as high as we're apt to see it, I think, and finally I can get a little bit of the feed bill back," McIntosh said, noting that Cletus ate about 90 pounds of hay per day during the winter.

The 10-year-old steer, named Cletus, was sold to a Minnesota buyer and sent to slaughter.

Cletus was the largest steer McIntosh has ever seen and the heaviest to come through the auction yard in memory, said field representative Dick Perkins.

When Cletus entered the auction ring, the crowd whistled and gasped.

McIntosh said he was a bit disappointed that the steer fell 50 pounds short of the 3,000-pound mark. Cletus weighed 3,100 pounds last year.

"I guess he wintered a little rough," McIntosh said.

Cletus has always been big, about 725 pounds as a calf, and just kept getting bigger, even though he wasn't fed anything out of the ordinary.

"Grass in the summer and hay in the winter," McIntosh said.

Cletus was used as the lead steer, which keeps the herd calm and headed in the right direction. A steer is a castrated male.

"He had a nice life, just eating and sleeping," McIntosh said.

McIntosh is already looking for a new lead steer.

"I've got a couple of prospects," he said.

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