Marketing calves involves several stages and decisions along the way for cattlemen. Matt Bode, cattle procurement manager with Creekstone Farms, Arkansas City, Kansas discussed what he is looking for when buying fed cattle as a representative of a beef packing company. Bode was one of a panel of speakers who addressed beef cattle marketing options during an SDSU Extension seminar held recently in Mitchell, S.D. 

Creekstone Farms processes 1,250 head per day at their southern Kansas beef processing facility which has been in production for nine-years. The bulk of the cattle purchased by the plant are from feedyards in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. In the past years, Creekstone Farms has purchased upwards to 70,000 head of cattle out of South Dakota. Today those numbers are slightly lower with the smaller cow herd and higher transportation costs.  However many of the cattle that are being fed in Nebraska and Kansas feedyards may have originated from South Dakota cowherds, Bode explained during his presentation to South Dakota cattle producers.  The Creekstone Farms processing facility is smaller than some of the large industry plants, processing fewer cattle on a weekly basis, but focusing on high-end quality cattle with verifiable Black Angus genetics. They also incorporate the latest technology using digital imaging to apply yield and quality grades.

Creekstone Farms processes beef to meet export demand from 13 foreign countries including beef that will meet the non-hormone treated cattle requirements to fit the parameters of the European Union marketplace. They also have a certified natural program aimed at a domestic market.  In order to meet the specifications of their programs they seek Black Angus cattle that will grade high choice or prime and have been on feed for 120 days or 240 days if the animal is a calf-fed. They hand select cattle off show lists from feedyards and many of the cattle stem from genetics from a group of registered producers Creekstone has built a relationship with. In 2011, the plant averaged 89% choice.  Creekstone will facilitate the ability of cattlemen to receive back carcass data on any cattle that are processed as they are most interested in helping the producer track the progress and characteristics of their cattle.

The company focuses on their two programs — Creekstone Farms Premium Black Angus Beef and Natural Black Angus Beef. These programs are USDA certified and third-party audited. The cattle are born in the U.S. and from birth to processing are handled with humane care and finished on a high-quality corn-based diet. The certified natural program was initiated in 2004 and most recently added a guaranteed tender label on their beef products. Random testing is conducted to meet certification requirements set by the USDA in order to label the product guaranteed tender.

Source: B. Lynn Gordon