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Resetting your cattle marketing paradigm

Pushing your operation to the next level will require new thinking, and perhaps different mentors, associates.

Doug Ferguson

November 18, 2022

7 Min Read
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Watch each Friday for Doug Ferguson's Market Intel blog on Beef Producer and BEEF magazine.vectorbomb-ThinkstockPhotos

We have been brain washed. We all start out in kindergarten. If we were mediocre, they promote us on to elementary school. We do mediocre in elementary school, and they move us on to high school. We do mediocre in high school, and they graduate us. We have been conditioned to get promoted even if we are mediocre. We have been conditioned that someone else is in charge of our promotion, our next level.

That first paragraph is what I recall from part of a speech I listened to on a podcast called Motivation Daily. The speaker’s name is Walter Bond, who I gather was an NBA player.

He makes a great point there. I spend the first segment of my marketing schools talking about how we got our paradigms, and why it’s hard to replace them. I do this for a reason, the old paradigm is going to put up a fight when introduced to a new idea. I know that in order to unlock the greatness in each one of us it is critical that people be aware of this so they realize and understand the conflict taking place in their minds.

It was so easy for me to use what Walter Bond said as my introduction paragraph this week. It was also just as easy to give him credit for it. It would have also been just as easy to not even mention him.

Here is why I give credit where credit is due. If I try to steal his material a message is sent to my subconscious mind that I am not good enough to come up with great stuff on my own. This blocks or stops my own creativity. It will also hamper my ability to learn and improve because it changes my self-image to that of a fraud.

I knew that when I started writing this column years ago people would swipe things from it and repost it as their own, never giving myself or BEEF, or Farm Progress any credit. That’s the risk we take posting things on the internet. I knew it would happen when I was interviewed on podcasts. I never suspected that people would take what we discussed on a private phone conversation and repeat what I said, almost word for word, and act like it was their own experience.

It is a little upsetting that people do this. That is not what really upsets me though. If you have ever spent any time around me, you know that I am all about setting a high standard of performance. I expect people to be excellent, and I despise mediocre. By stealing material and not giving credit these people are blocking themselves from being a better version of themselves.

Pushing to the next level

In that same speech Walter Bond gave he talked about the “next level” and how mediocre people think the next level is unattainable. I saw this when I rode bulls. The guys I was hanging around never believed they could make it to the next level, and they always distracted me from doing things that would get me there. I planned on passing through the next level and when I quit hanging around that group of guys and started hanging around a different group of people that were focused and driven to win I blew through the next level. Who are you hanging around with? What are you reading and interacting with on social media?

At the time I didn’t understand what I was seeing or experiencing. Even as a goofy kid I could see clearly that the winners ran with the other winners. As bad as we don’t want to admit it, our mom was right about being careful who we hang out with. Later in life after much mentoring from several different people and reading many books one thing is clear to me: our environment has more to do with who we are than our DNA.

George Bernard Shaw wrote, and I am paraphrasing: the successful people are the ones who get up and look for the situations and circumstances they desire, and if they can’t find them, they create them. As humans we have that ability, somewhat. But we cannot do that if we are blocking our own greatness by being mediocre or stealing.

As I am trying to write this, I have been staring at the screen for 15 minutes thinking of people who made an impact on raising cattle. I think of people like Allan Nation, Stan Parsons, Joel Salatin, Bud Williams, Alan Savory, Chip Hines and the list goes on. These guys did things their way. They figured some things out and shared it with the world.

We are all better off because of the material these people gave us. What they were working on didn’t end there. Other people came along and studied, and questioned. They figured some things out as well and made some improvements. We cannot improve things by stealing, we improve things by practicing, questioning and experimenting.

Napoleon Hill wrote an entire chapter in his book “Think and Grow Rich” about desire. Desire is the starting point of all achievement. The people that will revolutionize ranching from here on have the desire to be better, and discover better ways of doing things. They have a mission and stealing would only jeopardize that mission and prevent them from being awesome.

View from the cattle market

Last week I watched a female sale in Southwest Missouri. It was a typical sale as far as type, age, body condition score, period of gestation all affecting the selling price of the cows. I watched another female sale in the same region this week and most of those things didn’t affect price much. Bred cows all sold within a few hundred dollars of each other regardless of age or stage of gestation. What did influence price was frame size and body condition. Small frame cows and thin cows sold at a big discount.

The thing that sets my schools apart from the others is that I will bring these things up and talk about them. This prepares people for what will happen in the real world. Data punching numbers only goes so far. Sell/buy marketing tells us what we can, or cannot do to prosper ourselves, by unveiling price relationships.

In this sale the relationships were flat. There wasn’t much one could do as far as selling this cow and buying back another one. I am not in favor of doing trades where we step down in quality to make the math/trade work out. I did see some buying opportunities. The prices were lower at this sale than the one last week.

If a person had some money and some feed on hand, that person could buy some of the thin cows at the discounted price and put some flesh on them. Remember fat is always the prettiest color on a female and will help her sell better. There was a real opportunity for some value capture with those cows.

The feeder and fat markets were signaling we are a weight gain business at the moment. While there are some possible fat-to-feeder steer trades possible this week they are mostly limited to select heavy weight steers or bawling steers. The fat-to-feeder heifer trade was wide open to possibilities.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the feeder market was under-valued. Feeders were trading over and under-valued to each other. And with the Value of Gain on most weight classes being higher than the Cost of Gain it was a really good week to be in the backgrounding/stocker business.

This week we saw unweaned calves up to 16 back, and feeder bulls could be up to 30 back. Fleshy cattle took a steady 7 dollar discount.

The southern markets looked much different. It is only a weight gain business up to 500-pounds, unless you have value added lots. The VOG was much different in this region as it was much lower than the plains and even with the cheaper cost structure in the south the VOG was much lower than the COG. The market signals can’t get any clearer than they were this week in the south.

The opinions of Doug Ferguson are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

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