The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal Media. The opinions expressed below are the author's own.
Dan Goehl, DVM, and his wife own and operate Canton Veterinary Clinic in Canton, MO, where Dan works primarily with stocker and cow/calf beef operations.
Marketing the calf crop is one of the primary economic drivers in the cow–calf business. There are many advantages to be gained by cooperatively feeding and marketing cattle. Some of the most basic steps are to precondition calves on the farm, market them in pot-load sized, same-sex groups and have similar quality genetics on all calves.
Preconditioning programs typically combine vaccination and weaning programs. Work with your veterinarian to devise the best protocol.
The next step is to provide enough cattle of the same sex and size to fill a pot load—preferably same-sourced as well. Seventy head of 700-lb. calves are needed to fill a pot load. When sale groups of near 50,000 lb. are offered, it allows producers the opportunity to market in various ways, such as direct placement to feedlots or selling on video auctions. The cost advantage of diminished shrink and lower or no commission helps justify the marketing aspects of these programs. Ultimately, these cattle will have historical information on performance data collected and passed back to the group marketing the cattle.
In helping to organize marketing alliances like these, I have come to realize that there are many benefits and shortcomings of these types of programs. However, they all require interaction between cattle producers and veterinarians on multiple levels to provide quality beef to consumers.