Increase the Value of Feeder Calves

Most feeder calves in the United States are born in the spring and are going to market now.  Cow-calf producers have been in expansion mode over the past few years, leading to a large supply of feeder calves. The increase in animals has created a buyer’s market, and producers are looking for ways to add value to their calf crop.

John Grimes is an Extension beef coordinator at Ohio State University. He says there are several things that can give you an edge.

"They talk about these VAC 45 programs as kind of the industry standard now where they’re pre-conditioned and they’ve been weaned for 45 days, bunk broke, castration, de-horning, control of pests, those things all add value," says Grimes. "Those kinds of things are extremely important to the buyer."

Uniformity is also important to a buyer, but it’s hard to put a semi load of like-calves together if you have a small herd. Grimes recommends partnering with your neighbors and fill the truck with uniform calves by weight, sex, or breeding.

Traditional feeder sales are always a marketing option. However, there is a growing trend of using the internet as a marketing tool.

"Maybe they’re more in the western states; video auctions, you know, pre-selling the calves. I know a lot of those happen during the summer months where they’re sold for delivery at a set date at a certain size. I know in the East you’re starting to see more of those kinds of sales," says Grimes. "I think some of the weekly auction markets are looking at creative things to do to help merchandise cattle. So maybe to reduce the stress, maybe they’re sold and delivered from the farm and they don’t go through a weekly auction."

 Learn more about adding value to feeder calves