Small Beef Cattle Farm



Marketing Your Cattle

      It may not be easy to determine how and where to market your animals. The choice of market outlet depends on the class and grade of the cattle. Thus, the method of marketing usually is different for fed cattle, feeder, or purebred cattle.

           There are many different methods of marketing cattle, but most livestock in the United States are marketed through one of three channels: direct, auction, or carcass grade and weight basis. The direct and auction markets are for both fed and feeder cattle, while the carcass grade and weight basis is primarily for fed cattle. Purebred cattle usually are sold at special breed auctions or private sales.

     If you have a feeder or stocker enterprise your product is one or more 700 to 900 pound calves. You may choose to keep the animals and feed them as a market cattle enterprise or if you do not have the desire or resources to do so; you will need to market them. If you only have a few cattle of this type your marketing options are limited. To ensure cattle are marketed optimally discuss your options with those experienced in the business and keep up to date on market reports via newspaper or radio. You can sell them at a local auction or sell them by private treaty by advertising them in the paper, word of mouth or an advertisement on bulletin boards at the local feed store or wherever cattlemen gather.

     Livestock auctions or sales barns are trading centers where animals are sold by public bidding to the buyer who offers the highest price per hundredweight or per head. Auctions may be owned by individuals, partnerships, corporations, or cooperative associations.

Direct marketing (country dealers)
     Direct selling, or country selling, refers to sales of livestock directly to packers, local dealers, or farmers without the use of agents or brokers. The sale usually takes place on the farm, ranch, feedlot, or some other non-market buying station or collection yard.

     You may choose to have your cattle finishedand butchered for home consumption. You can also have them slaughtered by a custom packer and sell them to individuals cut and wrapped which is not always economical. Extension personnel can assist you in determining the economics of home raised beef.

     This method does not involve a recognized market. Sellers who direct-market should be aware of possible regulations regarding the private sale of breeding animals or beef for consumption.

Niche marketing
     A producer often can develop a local or regional market for certain cuts of beef or specialty beef products. If this interests you, check into meat handling requirements, inspections, and permits that may be necessary. This type of marketing usually takes time to develop and also may require a consistent seasonal or yearly supply.
Grades of carcass beef

     Carcass beef sold to wholesale and retail outlets usually is graded to determine the quality and price. There are two categories of grades for beef: yield grade and quality grade.

Yield grade
     Yield grade, or cutability, designates the yield of trimmed retail cuts from the carcass. Factors determining yield grade are:
     • Fat thickness over rib eye
     • Rib eye area
     • Kidney, pelvic, and heart fat (KPH), calculated as a percentage
     • Hot carcass weight

     Yield grades range from 1 to 5, with 1 being the leanest and 5 the fattest (requiring the most trimming).

Quality grade
     Quality grades designate various characteristics of meat and give the buyer a guide to tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. Grades separate beef into groups that are somewhat uniform in quality and composition.

     The quality grade of a beef carcass is determined by physiological maturity and marbling. The age of the animal affects the tenderness of the meat.

Quality assurance
     When consumers go to the store to purchase beef, they want quality meat, free of bruises, dark spots, abscesses, or lesions. Quality assurance means that beef producers pay attention to the factors that contribute to quality meat, produce a beef product that is free from defects, and ensure that consumers get the quality they want.

     When you raise beef cattle to sell to a feedlot or packer, you are selling a food product. The handling, management, and environment on your farm or ranch affect the quality of the product and what the consumer ultimately buys in the store. Poorly designed facilities and equipment can increase the number of cuts, puncture wounds, and bruises on beef animals. Corrals or chutes with sharp corners or protruding nails or bolts should be altered or repaired.

     You must keep records to document that vaccines and antibiotics were administered properly. Pay attention to withdrawal times on labels as well as dosage. Use only vaccines and drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the state Department of Agriculture. Your veterinarian or Extension agent can advise you of proper injection sites and procedures to reduce abscesses and lesions.



Horse and Rider


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