The View From Here | March 2014

Welcome to the 2014 March issue which includes coverage from the industry’s biggest livestock show, the National Western Stock Show. As you will see after looking through these pages, the Limousin breed made a strong impression again this year. From the open and junior shows on the hill, to the national sale, to the pen and carload show in the historic yards, the Limousin cattle on display were impressive.

During most of our events a person didn’t have to look far to find another breed. And I am probably not the only one who caught themselves comparing our breed to our competitors, and I, for one, was impressed.

Later on in this issue, you will find the first handful of Limousin sales to be held in 2014. It is safe to say the spring sale season is going to be wild. The cattle are better than ever and the demand for these cattle is intense. However, it is also fair to say the prospective buyers are sorting the cattle as hard as they ever have.

Since the dawn of time buyers have been trying to buy things as cheaply as possible, while sellers have fought to sell their products as high as the market allows. I suppose that is why we get so many questions about what truly adds value.

The one thing I have learned in this business is the quickest way to look like a complete neophyte is to crawl out on a limb and predict the market value of seedstock on any given day. Sure, with some experience, it is fairly easy to get close on the top and bottom end, but that middle cut, often times escapes me. And when it comes to individual animals within that middle cut, forget about it. That is one thing that keeps this business interesting.

While there will always be surprises come sale day, there are some tried-and-true benchmarks that contribute, or in some cases, deter, from an animal’s value. While most of them are obvious (eye appeal, EPDs, weights, scan data, homozygous testing, DNA profiles, customer service, etc.), their ranking and importance varies greatly depending upon your customer base. In other words, what works on Tuesday at a bull sale in South Dakota, probably won’t be met with the same degree of success at a Sunday female sale in Texas.

As you are working on your formula for success, I urge you to remember, that while your immediate customers may not have a clue what RFI stands for or how to read a feedyard close out, sooner or later, the genetics you are selling end up influencing the commercial cattle in feedlots, packing houses and grocery stores.

With that said, think about this. Decatur County Feed Yard owner and manager Warren Weibert has managed and tracked cattle individually, analyzed data and shared results with ranchers for years. His company recently conducted an economic analysis of 185,000 cattle finished at their facility to evaluate the drivers of profitability. In their analysis, they found feed efficiency is the top profit driver, accounting for 43 percent of the differences in profitability between cattle. Grid value followed closely at 39 percent and carcass weight accounts for 18 percent.

What that tells me is that we should all be concentrating on genetics that efficiently convert forage and feed to pounds of quality carcass. Sounds simple when you say it like that. Doesn’t it?

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