Hopkins County | Extension
As I returned from the 2019 Beef Short Course in College Station, two things caught my attention: the importance of global markets in beef prices and our job to maintain those markets open and fluid (keeping sales up). Marketing of cattle is one of those things that requires ranchers’ attention to make sure you are producing a commodity (cattle) that people (consumers) can or want to buy.
One of most effective methods of marketing cattle is using a preconditioning program in a preconditioned cattle sale. According to Ron Gill, Extension Beef Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, the purpose of preconditioning stocker or feeder calves is to minimize the morbidity and mortality experienced by calves as they move from their ranch of origin into the beef production system. Also, since cattle are assorted according to similar characteristics (weight, age, color, etc.), wholesale buyers can purchase bigger cattle lots, saving processing and transportation expenses.
Several co-mingled preconditioned feeder calf sales are available in Texas where cattlemen can consign “smaller than load lots” of cattle that adhere to the host’s management protocol. If variation within the offering would preclude them being marketed as a group, then selling through a co-mingled sale allows small numbers from individual consignors to sell for load lot prices.
Preconditioned and process verified calves are less risky to the feeder or stocker operator. Calves that never get sick perform better in the feedyard, have a greater chance of achieving their quality grade potential and most importantly are more likely to produce a positive eating experience for the beef consumer.
Hopkins County has conducted one of the oldest (more than 20 years) and more successful pre-conditioning sales in the U.S. organized and supported by the Northeast Texas Beef Improvement Organization (NETBIO).