Creating a calf marketing plan
ABCs of Marketing Your Feeder Calves
What programs are available and what you need to know now to market smart this fall.
Monday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m., Mueller Civic Center, Hot Springs, SD
Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m., Wall Community Center, Wall, SD
Presentations by Ginnette Gotswiller, American Angus Association
Nolan Woodruff, Red Angus Association
A light meal will be served. Please RSVP for meal count to Dave Koupal at 605-390-0625.
Most cattle producers already pack around the little red calving book full of numbers and herd information. It’s that information that buyers are looking for, to fill niches in the beef supply. With the lion’s share of the work already done, why not capitalize on it and use that information to help market your calves?
“Most producers are already doing the work to keep the records but aren’t following through to enroll their calves in some of the value-added programs, such as Certified Angus Beef, all-natural and the genetic merit scoring,” said Ginette Gottswiller, director of commercial programs for the American Angus Association. “They need to write down which calves are doctored with bolus or antibiotics and even which ones are given milk replacer since it is an animal by-product and will disqualify calves from the all-natural program. If those calves are identified and can be sorted off from the others, the herd can still qualify. The whole group is disqualified if you can’t tell which ones were doctored. An ear notch or writing down the tag number is all it takes. The Angus Sire Genetic program is also good for producers but they need to start early and make sure the bulls they are going to be using are registered Black Angus and have been transferred to their name. This also helps update current EPDs on the bulls.”
She says most of the programs offer free enrollment but they do require some work on the producer’s part. “Call and chat with the Angus Association and see what programs you might qualify for and also to develop a sale plan. There is no point in having your calves all NHTC if you sell at a local sale barn that isn’t certified.”
The Angus Association will help producers develop an individual plan and with the increased marketing options, even smaller producers can increase their calf value. “We can all sell pounds, we need to make more money for each pound, and the return on the time it takes to enroll is well worth it. It can be done on the computer or on paper but we have to start early. Many feedyards are willing to partner with producers on their calves, since to get all the data you have to have skin in the game,” Gottswiller said.
She also recommends that producers should look beyond the bull’s birth weight and study the other EPDs for the best results in the calves, such as marbling and carcass quality. “The main reason cattle don’t qualify for the Certified Angus Beef program is they don’t meet the specs in marbling.”
Nolan Woodruff, commercial marketing specialist, with the Red Angus Association said, “Ranchers in general are doing a good job with birth records. Keep as many records as you can so that when something works well you can do it again, the more records the better. Producers can contact the Red Angus Association and we will work with them to help market their commercial calves. We offer advertising and contact with feedlots and buyers who are looking for those calves. With our tagging programs producers are able to join specific programs for Red Angus calves and calves that are at least 50 percent Red Angus, those producers are seeing a premium in price for their calves but they need to order their tags now.”
Other breed associations also offer marketing assistance, such as Gelbvieh’s Balancer Edge and Feeder Finder, Limousin’s LimMark and LimChoice, and Charolais’ CharAdvantage. Regardless of breed, ranchers can benefit by investigating marketing choices that could add dollars with little investment.
Woodruff and Gotswiller will be giving presentations next week on marketing opportunities in seminars put together by Dave Koupal, Hot Springs South Dakota rancher and ag lender with Black Hills Federal Credit Union. Koupal has been coordinating rancher/producer seminars since 2012 with the goal of helping educate the agriculture community. “We need to educate ourselves on what is available for marketing options, talking to your buyers on what they want and how the last crop did. What do the buyers want and what is your goal? Every operation is different, what is your focus, the maternal side and expanding the herd or the steer side? What types of feed resources are available?” Koupal said. “My life is surrounded by ag and I want to help others. We need to help each other be profitable and also for the next generation.”
“In this industry we have to be better at marketing our commodity, we do a great job raising our commodity; we need to do a better job marketing our products,” he said. “It is a business and a lifestyle, if we want to keep the lifestyle, the business part has to come first,” said Koupal.
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