Last year we titled the Oklahoma Quality Beef Network’s (OQBN) 2014 Sale Summary “A rising tide lifts all boats.” After record prices – and record premiums – in 2014, the feeder calf market in the latter part of 2015 took a different track.  If you are involved in the cattle business, you know that the tide definitely receded. That said, as feeder calf prices fell throughout the 2015 fall sale season, OQBN’s 2015 calf enrollment numbers reached the second-highest in program history and OQBN premiums, though not at 2014 levels, were still quite good. 

OQBN’s goal is to enhance value adding opportunities for Oklahoma’s beef industry. This collaborative project reaches across research and extension as well as across disciplinary lines, involving Agricultural Economics faculty, Animal Science faculty, and Vet Med faculty. The Oklahoma Cattleman’s Association also provides support for the program. The most visible component of OQBN is arguably its fall OQBN Certified VAC45 calf sales held at livestock markets throughout Oklahoma. The OQBN Website (http://oqbn.okstate.edu/) and Facebook page provide information to producers and extension educators of upcoming sales, weaning and management protocols, useful educational information and research findings on an ongoing basis. Information is also linked to Oklahoma State University’s Beef Extension website (http://www.BeefExtension.com) to further facilitate awareness and access for producers.

Sale results provide feedback for participating producers as well as useful information for producers considering OQBN’s VAC45 certification program.  In 2015, eight OQBN value added calf sales were hosted by livestock markets around the state. Data were collected at Blackwell, Cherokee, El Reno (OKC West) (x3), McAlester, Pawnee and Woodward between October 28, 2015 and December 11, 2015 on approximately 6,095 OQBN certified calves sold in 501 lots at designated OQBN sales. An additional 2,796 head of OQBN certified calves were sold directly through private treaty. Including OQBN calves, data were collected on a total of 17,981 calves. The overall weighted average OQBN premium over calves with no preconditioning for 2015 was $11.08/cwt, a value comparable to premiums from 2011-2013 (Figure 1).  It does not reflect differences attributable to lot size, weight, breed, hide, color, sex, fleshiness, and muscling. Figure 2 illustrates 2015 OQBN premiums by weight category and by gender.  Premiums were higher in lighter weight categories, but for calves weighing 700 pounds or less, premiums were generally near $10/cwt or higher for both steers and heifers.  Estimated value added to Oklahoma calves based on premiums alone, including the 2,796 OQBN calves marketed outside of OQBN sales, is approximately $584,000. 

Producers can access the OQBN budgeting tool at estimate the value of preconditioning for their individual operations at www.agecon.okstate.edu/faculty/publications/3943.xlsx. See http://www.oqbn.okstate.edu for educational information and for more detailed information on the health management protocol and the certification process.