What a cattle feeder wants
As a meeting coordinator, I always squirm just a little when an audience member stands up, addresses the speaker and says, “I don’t really have a question for you… more of a comment.”
You never really know what kind of tirade might come after an introduction like that.
But last Wednesday, it was a good comment. One I wish more would stand up and share. We were out at the Collinge Ranch in Hamilton, Kan., for a field day for folks in the stocker business. The session was called “What a Feeder Wants,” with Jerry Bohn of Pratt Feeders leading the discussion.
- Health program history: Let your feeder know the weaning status, vaccination history, if and what implants have been used and if you have any history of chronic illness in the herd.
- Feeding program history: Try to have cattle bunk and water tank broke. Let the feeder know what kind of mineral program they may have been on. “That helps us help them – we need to know if they are nutrient sufficient before we can create a feeding program,” he said.
- Genetic background: Be able to note the breed(s) of the animals. Cattle that are age and source verified, or at the very least have calving records to verify their age are worth the paperwork. But, Jerry said, if you have the calving records already, you might as well go ahead and put it to work in a verified program, like AngusSource, to ensure a dollar premium.
- Data/information transfer: “The surest way to get carcass data back is to own them through the feeding phase,” Jerry said. Owning some or all of your cattle through the feeding phase is a huge jump. But if you find a feeder who is willing to work with you, they may be able to help with the transition through financing assistance. If you’re not ready to make that move, there’s no harm in simply asking the feeder upfront if they would be willing to share their feedlot and carcass performance data. You might be surprised: “The information-sharing business is getting better,” Jerry said. “Sharing that data is good for everyone involved.”
- Selling fed cattle on a grid: The key to making money on a grid marketing system is to avoid discounts. That means avoiding dark cutters, overweight cattle, yield grade 4 and 5 and anything older than 30 months of age. If you can avoid those categories, Jerry said, and push for more Prime and upper Choice grades, you’ll be in good shape.
Are you following any of these practices Jerry talked about to make your cattle stand out and command a premium? Was it as easy as the gentlemen in the back of the session said? Would you share that information with your cattle industry peers? This session was one that started a great discussion among attendees, and I hope it does the same for our readers here!