Fall calf marketing process should start now
Tim Petry, Livestock Marketing Economist NDSU Extension Service
The Prairie Star
Many cow-calf producers are finishing another successful spring calving season.
Thoughts of marketing those new calves in the fall may be far from their minds. However, spring is an ideal time to start the marketing process, even though the actual sales date is still months away.
Last fall, the range in prices for similar weights and grades of calves at the same sale was wider than at any other time in history. Northern Plains auction markets recorded $15 per hundredweight (cwt) or even greater ranges in prices. Fall 2008 price ranges could be even wider.
A group of 550-pound calves that brings $15 per cwt more than another group at a sale returns an additional $82.50 per head. Keep in mind that an additional $50 to $100 per calf may be the difference between profit or loss this fall. Trying to reduce costs by that amount may be difficult due to rising feed, fuel and land costs. So, selling calves near the top of the range rather than close to the bottom will be important.