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Value Captured from Improved Production Practices: What does the sale data say?

published: September 3rd 2021
by: Sandy Johnson
source: K State Unversity Extension

Weaning time is still a way off for many producers but it is never too early to think about your marketing strategy for those calves.  A variety of factors influence the value of a given lot of calves and while many of those factors are known, the magnitude of differences is harder to pinpoint.  For several years, KSU Animal Science and Industry faculty and graduate students have been part of a team studying a large data set from Superior Video Auctions.  You may have viewed some of those individual reports in previous issues of BeefTips. To easily search the findings of this research, this article has compiled each report by topic.

A recorded presentation from the 2020 Winter Ranch Management series by then graduate student Esther McCabe shared a portion of this data entitled Value Captured from Improved Production Practices: What does the sale data say?  This recording highlights data on region, mixed lots of steers and heifers, auction date, calf health, breed, implants, non-hormone treated lots, and source and age verification. The mean number of calves in this report was 105 with a range of 7 to 840 head and a median value of 88. The base weight of lots averaged 570 lbs with a range of 220 to 900 pounds.

Below are 3-4 page articles published on individual topics and the associated summary. The more detailed report is available by clicking on the title. Note that time periods represented vary.

Implications: The percentage of lots of beef calves with Brahman influence marketed via summer video auctions appears to be decreasing in the United States. However, it has remained unchanged in the Coastal and Sub-Coastal regions where Brahman influenced calves are adapted to the warmer, more humid climates. The decision to utilize the Brahman breed is a decision made by producers, likely evaluates trade-offs of cattle performance and value to best fit their operation.

Implications: Value of specific breed composition of beef calves is influenced by gender and may be related to the buyer’s purchasing certain breeds of heifer calves as replacements for the breeding herd.

Implications: Continued research and understanding of the characteristics and factors that influence the sale price of breeding cattle across the United States may provide insight to cow-calf producers.

The Bottom Line: Price advantages for non-hormone treated calves may not be sufficient to justify not using growth-promoting implants on calves.

The Bottom Line: Though the percent of lots qualified for source and age verification decreased from 2011 to 2016, premiums were garnered from verified lots. The percentage of lots enrolled may continue to increase with new export markets.

The Bottom Line: Producers marketing calves via video auction may be changing the genetics of their sires to use on a primarily black cow herd.

The Bottom Line: These results indicate there is a price advantage for lots expected to be hauled shorter distances, likely because of cost and risk associated with transportation

The Bottom Line: This dramatic shift indicates an industry trend towards increasing modified live viral vaccine utilization compared with declining usage of killed and combination respiratory viral vaccines. This trend may be a result of modified live viral vaccine approval for use in suckling calves nursing pregnant cows.

The Bottom Line: The relative price discount for Holstein feeder steer lots compared with other breed descriptions appears to have increased from 2010–2018, and thus is likely indicating lessening interest in the feedlot sector to feed Holstein steers to harvest.

The Bottom Line: While variation in the sale price of beef calves across regions suggests evident differences in the recognized value by buyers, results indicate the value associated with the vaccination and management of calves with potentially larger transportation distances from origin to delivery.

To optimize returns from the calf crop, knowledge of how various factors influence returns can be very helpful as producers evaluate cost effective ways to add value to the calf crop.

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