10/07/2021 Marketing Cattle in the Fall #440

This is the time of year when many North Dakota beef producers are marketing both weaned calves and aged cows. Lisa Pederson, NDSU Extension beef quality assurance specialist, joins Sound Ag Advice to discuss the differences in marketing these two products.

Speaker 1: Kelli Anderson, NDSU Ag Communication Specialist
Speaker 2: Lisa Pederson, NDSU Extension Beef Quality Assurance Specialist

Kelli: This is Sound Ag Advice, a weekly feature presented by NDSU Extension. I'm Kelli Anderson and I'm joined this week by Lisa Pederson, NDSU Extension beef quality assurance specialist. Now this is the time of year that North Dakota beef producers might be taking some of their older cows or bulls to their local livestock auction. So Lisa, can you tell us what are some things to remember as we talk about taking these animals to market?

Lisa: Yes, Kelli we are in the time of year where many spring calving herds across the United States are marketing cows that are leaving their herd and you know, often leaving because they're, as we say, the three O's: old, open and ornery or for other reasons. And so, as you are preparing to market your cows and bulls into the food chain, I'd like you to remember to follow their withdrawal times. And so perhaps you poured those cows with some type of a lice preventative product and maybe you've injected them with an antibiotic to treat them for something, be sure that you have met their withdrawal times for those products.

Next, I'd like you to remember that we would like to have our market cows and bulls in a beef body condition score of three or better, we want to make sure that those cows and bulls are in a condition in which they can make a trip to one of our packing plants. And typically, these packing plants are a lot further than you think in the country, well over 100 miles oftentimes, and then make sure that those cows and bulls can stand soundly on all four legs to make that trip. We know that when lame cattle oftentimes have troubles making those trips and they become non-ambulatory cattle and trucks and impacting plants along within auction markets as well.

Kelli: When you talk about producers taking their animals to market, what is the difference in the marketing chain in young calves versus older cows and bulls?

Lisa: That's a very good question, Kelli. And oftentimes, this time of year, our producers are also marketing their calves at the same auction markets. And so you know, you think about that the calf leaves your farm or ranch goes to the auction market, and may move into a background feed yard, into a stocker operation for grass or perhaps wheat pasture, and then into a feed yard to be finished and then into the packing plant. Whereas our market cows and bulls will leave your farm or ranch and oftentimes go to an auction market. And then generally probably 90 plus % of the time, they will be at the packing plant within two or three days, and then onto somebody's plate for a meal time, shortly after that. And so it is a much shorter marketing chain for our market cows and bulls. Again, I'd like to remind producers this is one of the reasons why we need to adhere to following withdrawal times for the safety and quality of our food supply. But also market those cows and bulls in a body condition score greater than three, and be sure that they can soundly put weight on all four legs.

Kelli: Any final thoughts for our North Dakota beef producers?

Lisa: You know, I would really encourage producers to think about these cows as being a food product. Yeah, I think oftentimes, we think they're either hamburger or dog food, and then all reality, a vast majority of the time, meat from cows and bulls goes into our whole muscle chain. And so they're being served as roast at quick service establishments, oftentimes steaks and casinos and cruise ships and, you know, even sometimes exported into the export market. I encourage producers to think about cleaning them up a little bit. And think of them as you're trading them in for a new model. And so our producers would always clean up a pickup or a tractor and make it look it's very shiny best so that they can get more value for that pickup or tractor before they would sell it or trade it in. And I'd encourage you to think about that with your market cows and bulls. Think of them as something that truly has value and represents your operation. I always tell them if you wouldn't want to eat it, then why should you expect somebody else to do so. And so again, clean those cows and bulls up and make sure that they provide a good wholesome, high-quality product for our consumers.

Kelli: Great things to think about for our beef producers from Lisa Pederson, our NDSU Extension beef quality assurance specialist. We thank her for her time today. This has been Sound Ag Advice, a weekly feature presented by NDSU Extension.

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