More than 70 beginning ranchers new to the cattle business heard in-depth discussions on methods to produce and market cattle during a two-day workshop held at Texas A&M University in College Station.
The workshop was sponsored by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas Beef Council and Prairie View A&M.
“We have seen a lot of individuals out there who have made the decision to get into the cattle business recently or over the past decade,” said Dr. Tom Hairgrove, AgriLife Extension livestock and food animal systems coordinator, College Station. “We wanted to host a program of this type to reach out to these folks and provide them a broad overview of different marketing opportunities that they may not be aware of.”
Dr. Joe Paschal, AgriLife Extension livestock specialist, Corpus Christi, provided an overview of the different types of marketing options for cattle producers in Texas. They range from cow-calf producers who market their cattle directly to auction markets to those who have retained ownership and graze their calves to specific weights.
There are also freezer beef operations that sell live animals to customers.
“That might be weaned calves from 600-800 pounds,” Paschal said. “The starting price would be what you would get at the auction market, then adding any processing costs and profit. A lot of people from large urban areas are looking to buy this type of beef or form cooperatives where a number of families are buying farm-raised together at a certain price per pound.”
Jesse Carver, region executive officer with the Livestock Marketing Association, provided an overview of livestock auction markets as a method for cattle producers to market their livestock.
He asked attendees, “‘Why sell your cattle at the auction market?’ It helps producers receive the highest prices possible for their animals. There’s a competition between multiple bidders by bringing a volume of livestock to one place.”
Among those multiple bidders are cattle dealers or order buyers, he said. Carver said order buyers act as agents for packers, feeders, etc. Carver said all cattle received at the auction are back tagged, sorted by size, sex, body score and color. All livestock markets have a licensed veterinarian checking for disease or adding value to the livestock by performing palpation.
“Auction markets are bonded and have to guarantee you payment,” he said. “This ensures that you as the seller will get your check that same day of sale.”
Dr. Elizabeth Parker, veterinarian with the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases, provided an overview of beef associations and the advocacy roles they play. Dr. Virginia Fajt, professor with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M, provided an overview of current animal health regulations. Dr. Kellye Thompson, program specialist with Prairie View A&M, provided an overview on herd health practices.