Marketing your commercial cattle
Making management changes is just part of the package. If you add value to your calves, put on a marketing hat to make sure you get paid for that.
Use the tabs below for tips and tools that will help document the value of your cattle, decide what marketing venue is best suited for your ranch and find ways to make your cattle the ones buyers demand.
- Calf Resume
- Value Calculator
- Grid Marketing 101
- Natural Niche
- AngusSource® Genetic
Don’t focus on just selling your calves. Invest time and thought into how you can produce calves suitable for promotion, then promote and deliver them to partners who recognize the value. Build a resume for your calves.
There is value in documenting every investment made in your calves. A calf management record serves as a resume for your calves’ ranch achievements. From conception to sale day, each management detail serves as evidence that your calves are ready for the next stage of production.
Here are a few questions that will help you start creating a resume for your cattle. Remember, cattle with a story behind them sell. Make sure your story is a good one!
- What is the primary breed of your cowherd?
- What is the primary breed of the bulls used?
- Do the bulls or cows come from any popular breed sires?
- What breeder did you purchase your bulls from?
- Can you provide sample EPDs of the sires of your calves?
- How many days have the calves been weaned?
- What vaccinations have the calves received and when? Can you get a signed document from your veterinarian verifying your calf health program?
- Are the calves eligible for any natural beef programs? If so, note if any calves in the group have been treated with an antibiotic.
- What nutrition program were your calves on from birth through weaning?
- Did your calves receive a creep feed on pasture?
- What were your calves fed during the weaning period?
- Are your calves familiar with eating from a feedbunk and drinking from an automatic waterer?
- When was the first and last calf of the sale group born?
- Are the calves age-and-source verified or part of a USDA Process Verified Program?
- Did your calves receive implants? If so, when were they given, and what brand and type of implant did you give them?
- What past feeding and carcass data can you provide buyers?
- Are you willing to offer a per-head rebate if a buyer supplies you with specific carcass and feed performance information from these calves after harvest?
Unique, interactive spreadsheets to:
Discover - fair market value for calves or feeder cattle.
Decide – if cattle should be sold or if retained ownership offers more profit potential based on market conditions, cattle genetics and management background.
Calculate - backward from a projected fed-cattle price while including normal or expected feedyard costs to arrive at the value of the cattle upon entering the feedyard.
Assist - buyer and seller in establishing a breakeven price at the time the calves or feeders are being sold or entered into joint ownership.
Project - potential carcass quality of the cattle and also adjust the values that are being paid for quality grade, yield grade and weight.
Make Informed Results – through increased research and understanding of fed cattle and carcass marketing.
Grid Marketing 101
way to get paid for
what each animal is
worth, rather than
being paid on guesses
Grid marketing is the way to get paid what each animal is worth, rather than being paid on guesses or averages. Qualifying for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand is a significant premium on most grids (see example). However, the less you know about your cattle, the more risk they may be worth less than average and, therefore, earn a discount rather than a premium.
This form of value-based marketing derives its name from the grid table of premiums and discounts for various levels of carcass merit. For example, Prime is the highest value quality grade and Yield Grade (YG) 1 the best cutability score. Therefore, a grid box with Quality Grade on one axis and Yield Grade on the other will show its highest premium for Prime YG 1 in the upper left-hand cell.
On the other hand, a Standard YG 5 is the least desirable combination, and the compound discounts for poor quality and yield will show up in the lower right-hand cell. Discounts can be even worse if they run into carcasses that are too light, too heavy, too mature or dark cutters.
The risk of discounts is why most producers work with an organized steer cooperating feedyard that will buy the calves and report data for a year or two. Those are two ways to sample carcass merit and feedyard performance before jumping in with both feet.
Once you see individual progeny data and bring it back to bear on sire and cow records, you can cull and select to produce mostly above-average carcasses. At that level, the best way to get paid for adding value is on that grid.
By definition, niche production isn't for everyone. But if you want to raise Angus cattle with detailed records that document no implants, antibiotics or animal-derived feed, there's good news. Two companies are licensed to produce CAB brand Natural: Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. and Niman Ranch.
Live cattle must be Angus-influenced, predominately solid black hair coat, and must then pass the 10 CAB carcass specifications to qualify. Producers must also sign an affidavit that their cattle never received antibiotics (fed or injected), hormones or animal byproducts, to meet the additional requirements of CAB brand Natural.
Interest in CAB brand Natural is high. If you would like more information on producing or feeding cattle for the program, please contact:
Mark McCully, CAB Vice President for Production, 330-345-2333
Brad Brandenburg, Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., 800-325-8967, ext. 2122
John Tarpoff, Niman Ranch, 618-973-5961
Packing plants are also welcome to inquire about producing for CAB brand Natural, and may contact Clint Walenciak, CAB Packing Director.
Angus Source® Genetic
Get the most out of using registered Angus bulls in your commercial cross-bred herd with AngusSource® Genetic.
Records from eight video sales in 2010 showed AngusSource®-tagged cattle brought $2.58/cwt. more than non-verified calves. AngusSource® calves are carving out a reputation for their CAB acceptance rate with Feeding Partners, too, averaging better than 55% brand acceptance in 2010 – more than double the whole population of the database for 2010.
To learn more about the program, contact the American Angus Association at //www.angus.org/angussource/ or call 816-383-5100.