Sunday, January 17, 2010

Adding Value to Your Calves

Click the blog title link for the full text of this CattleNetwork article.

      Southeast Texas cattle producers, both seedstock and commercial cattlemen, should consider participating and pooling of their calf crop within a value-added age and source verification program.  At first look it may seem overwhelmingly complicated and challenging and likely aggravating as well.  But in today's market, and in the market of the future, participants in these programs have the best odds of thriving as individual producers.  Particular breeds as well, such as British White, will see increased demand for their breeding stock and for their calf crop, with breed identification coupled with age and source verification through one of the many existing programs offered today.  Igenity , which offers the beef industry with the most comprehensive and powerful DNA profile available, has now incorporated age and source verification into their product offerings through a partnership with Global Animal Management.

Excerpts follow from an interview with "Ken Conway, PhD, founder and head of GeneNet, one of the nation’s leading marketing alliances that pools calves to sell on a quality grid."

BI: Don’t Fly Blind, Advises This Veteran Of The Value-Added Movement
07/22/2009 02:30PM

Know what you’re selling. “There just aren’t a lot of cattle producers left anymore who can afford to treat calf raising as a spectator sport,” says Dr. Conway, whose GeneNet Alliance now pools calves from more than 1,000 calf producers and 100 feedyards to market on a carcass grid Swift offers only to GeneNet.
As relatively small a step as joining a Beef Quality Assurance program has been shown to bring a premium. And age and source verification can be the easiest money a producer can make, if he’s willing to take the often difficult mental step of opening up his records to a stranger.
“You have got to understand what your cattle are, and what they’re really worth, he says. GeneNet typically returns carcass data from the packer to subscribers in under a week. “I know, a lot of cow/calf producers feel, ‘I’ve got a great set of calves. I’ve always topped the sale.’ But I always tell them unless you know how your calves will grow, what they’ll gain in the feedyard, how they’ll hold up to stress and disease once the next guy owns them, and what they’ll do on a grid, in the end you really don’t know what it is you’re selling. And if you don’t know that, you really don’t have any idea of where to go or what to do with those calves to bring you what they’re really worth.

“When I started GeneNet 10 years ago, that was a time when very few people were even putting tags in ears. Once we finally got some of those guys to send cattle through the program, to kill them on the grid, we saw the same thing happen again and again. They’d look at a set of cattle and see them as peas in a pod—a good set of top calves with no difference down the line from top to bottom. And then we’d send back the kill sheet data on them that showed a $300 difference in the spread in the final value of these calves.”

That’s the kind of market intelligence that will make the difference between the successful cattle producer and the not so successful in the coming years, Dr. Conway believes. “I’ve got a lot of producers who say if it wasn’t for GeneNet, they wouldn’t be in business. You just can’t afford to give away the quality you’ve invested in—not for very long, anyway.”