What is your marketing plan? How do you market your calf crop? This question can apply to beef cow-calf operations as well as those who grow Holstein steers for various lengths of time. How much planning and thought do you put into determining a marketing plan for your calves? Doing the same thing every year may result in less cash in your pocket. What do you do in order to capture as much profit as possible for your calves?
A marketing plan should answer the questions of what, when, how and where you plan to market your cattle. I like the first habit from Steven Covey’s book, The7 Habits of Highly Effective People: begin with the end in mind. What is the end product you plan on producing? Is it a calf weaned on the way to market when some cash is needed? Is it a weaned, preconditioned calf to be sold in a special sale? Is it a backgrounded short or long yearling? Is it one or more registered animals to be sold to other registered breeders or commercial producers?
The”what” part is obviously bovine animals, it may be feeder calves, stocker calves, breeding stock, or perhaps you finish them out and sell them as fed cattle.
So the “when” question is to consider what the end product will be, the cost of producing that product, sale or marketing opportunities and expected prices relative to other time periods.
The “when” question for some is determined by when the calves are born, and/or when they need some cash, run out of pasture, or a similar tough spot. Obviously this is not a good situation and should not be standard procedure. For others “when” is determined by evaluating their costs and opportunities for retaining ownership for a longer period of time. Some producers do this annually to determine the best option for maximizing return on their resources under the prices and feed availability for that given year.
Your resource base is a key for determining whether you are going to wean the calves and grow them for some extended period of time. Is sufficient forage available? Are supplemental feeds available and at what cost? Are the livestock facilities and labor available sufficient to own the animals longer? The key is to pencil out the details for your farm to determine the best option.
“How”and “Where” will the cattle be marketed? There are a number of options out there including regular weekly auctions, special feeder sales, alliance sales, video sales and direct-from-the-farm sales. These different options offer different benefits and opportunities. Evaluate them to determine which works best for you.