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6 Steps To Successfully Marketing Premium Calves

6 Steps To Successfully Marketing Premium Calves
The process of getting calves ready for market and capturing premiums is not simple, but it can be done.

There are six steps to placing premium beef calves on the market, says Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State University Extension beef specialist and director of the Dickinson Research Education Center. They are:

Premium calves just don't happen. It takes six specific steps to produce calves that fit bill.

Superior genetics. "Calves are a product of a producer's genetic program. The days have long passed when producers simply eyeball and guess what the genetic package is. The appropriate mix of growth and carcass genes that are achieved through proven sires is critical. A calf only will be what its genes allow it to be. In the current world, fast-growing calves that have the genes to grade Choice and offer the feedlot some flexibility in marketing a very lean, heavy carcass would be very desirable," Ringwall says.

Sound management. "As a buyer who is about to write a check for $900 calves, there is an expectation that these calves have been under the care of a good manager. It's not in the bold print; it's the fine print that acknowledges the presence of a good manager. A manager is someone who conducts business in a professional manner, pays attention to detail, has a broad grasp of the industry, has positive people skills, guides those who are supervised, and knows how to document and sell a program."

Preconditioning. "Preconditioned calves are products of a complete health management program designed to minimize risk as the calves leave the home ranch to travel through the marketing channels and arrive at a backgrounder or feedlot. These calves must be accustomed to water troughs, feed bunks and timely vaccinations using recommended vaccines, treated for applicable parasites and fully processed (castration and dehorning)."

Tag identification. "Calves need to be identified by a tag or a similar form of identification to allow for the proper acknowledgment of who that calf is. Not all calves are the same, and all calves do not measure up to standards. Those that do must be identified or, once unloaded into a pen of similar-colored calves, they all become average."

Certification. "Cattle that are seeking a premium must be certified and acknowledged as to who they are. The challenge is not a simple one. As the market gets more technical, the challenge becomes even greater. However, the difficulty does not remove the need to certify who the calf is. Call it the difference between generic versus name- brand marketing. The difference is in the name."

Good marketing strategy. "Many would put this point as No. 1. However, endurance in a good marketing strategy depends on having a calf that has superior genetics, represents sound management practices and is preconditioned, tag identified and certified."

Source: NDSU
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