Guest – the previous post by Texan is correct, in that when I earlier referred to Choice I meant the USDA quality grade “Choice”; and no, you won’t realize any special pricing advantage when turning those calves over to a transporter.
I sincerely hope that the following comments do not sound condescending, because they are certainly not meant to be, but: For the size of your operation I think that your best bet is to get a quality bull of whatever breed you choose and try to raise the best calves you can and sell them at a local sale barn when they are in the 500 to 600 pound range, or perhaps join some sort of marketing alliance if the folks in your area have one. When referring to owning them all the way through to the killing floor I really meant something on the order of participating in the Ranch to Rail program but I erroneously assumed you had greater numbers of calves. Under the Ranch to Rail concept (and other states have similar programs, just named differently) essentially the rancher raises the calves until they are of the size where they are ready to go to a feedlot --- but he continues to own them all through the feeding process as well. As you can imagine, there are additional economic risks associated with the continued ownership in addition to the hoped-for economic benefits. Currently, when you sell your calves you are “off the hook” for their subsequent health problems, price changes for feed, the vagaries of the weather while the calves are on feed, the actual price of finished fed cattle, etc. --- not so if you retain ownership! For those and other reasons, if you even think about retained ownership it seems to me that you have to have a good understanding of hedging and management of financial risks. Ultrasounding is a great tool, but probably only after the passage of time and accumulation of good carcass information from killed calves will you know if your calves really are able to hit the higher quality grades after being on feed. Sometimes you lose money via retained ownership, especially if the calves aren’t really as good as you think they are. And with most Beefmasters or Charolais you are going to have a hard time hitting Choice in a NORMAL feeding time frame. Essentially there’s a lot for you to get educated on, but at the end of the day, at your present size you probably have only a very few head of similar sized, same sex calves at any one point in time and I rather doubt that you could find any feedlot program that would take such small groups. At any rate, even if only for intellectual curiosity, you may want to contact the folks over at A & M and get some written infor about the ranch to rail program.
This has probably gotten way too wordy and I hope that what I have written is pretty much on the mark. I would also note that it’s all strictly just IMHO. I’m just a small time guy with what I consider to be a rather "dinky" operation myself, never having had more than 39 mama cows at any one time, but I don’t need to get any bigger to enjoy it at the present time. Good luck to you.
One last note, if you are interested in Charolais, you might visit the Thomas Charolais ranch down in the valley --- for Simbrah maybe lookup Carlos Guerra at La Muneca ranch and there should be lots of Beefmaster raisers down in your neck of the woods but you probably can’t go too far wrong if you get a Lasater line bull