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Confessions of a Lack of Skill

cowboy43

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I have been around cattle all my life but I have never devoloped a good eye for judging or grading cattle and that bugs me when I go to the auction and watch the buyers evaluating an animal so quick and deciding it's value. I have had the auction owner look at my stocker calves and he grades them 1,2,3 instantly . Sometimes I do not see what difference makes them 1 or 2. Do other cattlemen have this problem or am I the only dump enough to confess this lack of skill. I believe there is because I have talked to some sellers and they wonder why their calves did not bring top price, and even I can judge them as no. 3's I never had any formal education in livestock judging , so how do you educate yourself to be skilled in judging livestock , is there educational classes in Texas that would help or do you try to self educate yourself. When going to auctions and watching the buyers I do not grasp what they are looking for. Being retired and if this Texas drought ever ends I would like to buy stockers to make up for the cows I had to sell. I know the buyers will sometimes run the price up on you if they see you are paying too much and I do not want to be taken advantage of. I know one thing I would not be confessing this if you could see my face and knew me, It would be like confessing you were a 40 year virgin. :
 

RD-Sam

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Read and study structure as much as you can, that is really important. There is also barn blindness, many think their cattle are better than they really are. Watch the way they move, look for any irregular movement, it should be smooth and fluid.
 

alacattleman

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cowboy43":1of4hiu7 said:
I have been around cattle all my life but I have never devoloped a good eye for judging or grading cattle and that bugs me when I go to the auction and watch the buyers evaluating an animal so quick and deciding it's value. I have had the auction owner look at my stocker calves and he grades them 1,2,3 instantly . Sometimes I do not see what difference makes them 1 or 2. Do other cattlemen have this problem or am I the only dump enough to confess this lack of skill. I believe there is because I have talked to some sellers and they wonder why their calves did not bring top price, and even I can judge them as no. 3's I never had any formal education in livestock judging , so how do you educate yourself to be skilled in judging livestock , is there educational classes in Texas that would help or do you try to self educate yourself. When going to auctions and watching the buyers I do not grasp what they are looking for. Being retired and if this Texas drought ever ends I would like to buy stockers to make up for the cows I had to sell. I know the buyers will sometimes run the price up on you if they see you are paying too much and I do not want to be taken advantage of. I know one thing I would not be confessing this if you could see my face and knew me, It would be like confessing you were a 40 year virgin. :
yep they sure do. the biggest problem they seem to have is not being able too see the problem.. having a good eye i hope too develope one myself right before i die :cowboy:
 

KNERSIE

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As important as structure is, it seldom play a big role at the salebarn price. Most buyers buy for feedlots or at least buy cattle or calves meant to be harvested within the relatively near future. What they look for is indicators that the calf will make a desireable feeder and slaughter animal.

Typically they look for muscling on the forearm and over the loin as well as how low the muscle goes down to the hocks, the width between the pins and over the top. They look at how easily they can see the seams between muscles as its an indicator of how lean or fatty the carcass will be.

In the case of feedlot buyers they will look for framier calves, higher flanks, longer heads while still avoiding extremes on either end. Feedlots don't want calves with very short cannon bones, very parallel top and underlines or calves that taper down in a V shape when seen from behind. Shiny coats and clean rear ends indicate animals that will adapt easier to the stress of the feedlot environment.

It really isn't rocket science, read up on the subject and practice your eye by looking at as many cattle as possible. Look at your own better animals and try and find the reasons behind why they are your better animals.
 

turning grass into beef

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Anyone can be a cattle buyer. But being a good cattle buyer takes skill. I have seen groups of cattle put together by different buyers and there is no doubt in my mind that some buyers are better than others (in fact some people should not be buyers). You are right in the fact that some people that own cattle don't have the skill to evaluate cattle.
I find that I am just like you when it comes to the speed at which good buyers can judge cattle. I could never be a good buyer. If they left the cattle in the ring for 4 or 5 times the length of time that they do, then I could be a good cattle buyer.
Experience is worth more than education (this is coming from someone with an education). Take a look at different types of cattle on feed at the beginning and at the end of the feeding period. Take a look at the cost of gain on these different types and you will begin to learn why some cattle are discounted. If you are not able to do this on cattle that you own, try to find a cattle feeder that would be willing to share this information with you. You may be suprised at who will be willing to share their knowledge with you if you sincerely want to learn.
 

ArmyDoc

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RD-Sam":2jpj37s9 said:
http://www.skunkhouse.com/postings/10801/news/attachment/10423e10801.pdf

Thanks for the link. I found it to be very thorough and easy to understand. One question though, and maybe I just missed it in the main portion of the article. But on the last page, it says avoid mixed-age bull mating groups. What does it mean by this?
 

RD-Sam

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ArmyDoc":3uawvzyv said:
RD-Sam":3uawvzyv said:
http://www.skunkhouse.com/postings/10801/news/attachment/10423e10801.pdf

Thanks for the link. I found it to be very thorough and easy to understand. One question though, and maybe I just missed it in the main portion of the article. But on the last page, it says avoid mixed-age bull mating groups. What does it mean by this?

I saw that and kinda wondered myself, I am assuming they mean not to turn out a younger and an older bull with the same group. Maybe someone else with better cattle lingo than me could clear that up?
 

kenny thomas

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If you can make friends with one of the order buyers and spend some time with them. Don't overdo it but ask questions. Might be better until you learn to pay this buyer to buy your calves for you. Usually theye will do it for 1/2 cent per lb. That way he also is not bidding against you.
 

Aaron

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Knersie has a lot of good points on proper structure, which is essential when buying good calves and backgrounding them. Poor structure is only acceptable in older slaughter cattle near the time of finishing out.

If you can, ask the sales barn manager if you can watch the sales barn workers, or himself, sort some big pens of calves (better yet, yearlings - they are easier to cut). You will learn a lot if you watch a good stockman cut classes of cattle for 30 minutes. A really good stockman looks past the hide and and will sort odd colours together if they make a good, even set of feeders. :cowboy:
 

alacattleman

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i found some old sale cataloges awhile back that i attended... i just shook my head, what the he!& was i thinking,, im sure my neighbors wondered the same thing .
 

BC

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You will be dollars ahead to let one of the regular buyers put your calves together. Most get $0.50 - $0.60 per cwt. for buying cattle.

Go watch a few sales and decide what you want to graze (steers or heifers)? are you willing to castrate bull calves?, what weight? get an idea of what you want the cattle to cost before you talk to a buyer so that you are not asking him to put together cattle at an unrealistic figure (like trying to buy cattle now for what they brought in March).
 

HOSS

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I was picking the brain of a well known order buyer in this area and he says that after looking at several hundred thousand head he looks at the animal as a "whole" and not one thing at a time. He takes in the overall package as a mental "snapshot" so to speak. At a single glance his brain sums up the picture and he knows if he wants to bid. I do the same thing with judging deer antlers. At a single glance I can tell the ballpark P&Y score without actually having to do any mental calculating.
 

alacattleman

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HOSS":3ek9k6j8 said:
I was picking the brain of a well known order buyer in this area and he says that after looking at several hundred thousand head he looks at the animal as a "whole" and not one thing at a time. He takes in the overall package as a mental "snapshot" so to speak. At a single glance his brain sums up the picture and he knows if he wants to bid. I do the same thing with judging deer antlers. At a single glance I can tell the ballpark P&Y score without actually having to do any mental calculating.
a well devoloped eye,,over time,,, plus they don't have all day too pick one apart.
 

Brandonm22

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The USDA feeder calf grading is pretty simple. If he is a healthy beef type calf he is going to be a 1,2, or 3 muscle score. A thick calf wide tracking calf with a noticable butt is a 1. A narrow made cat butted calf is a 3. An average calf somewhere in the middle, not noticably thick or noticably deficient is a 2. A 4 is a Jersey. USDA Small is an obvious toad or "dink": short, fat, and early maturing. Everything else is "USDA Medium & Large".
 

BC

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Brandonm22":3htyx8ct said:
The USDA feeder calf grading is pretty simple. If he is a healthy beef type calf he is going to be a 1,2, or 3 muscle score. A thick calf wide tracking calf with a noticable butt is a 1. A narrow made cat butted calf is a 3. An average calf somewhere in the middle, not noticably thick or noticably deficient is a 2. A 4 is a Jersey. USDA Small is an obvious toad or "dink": short, fat, and early maturing. Everything else is "USDA Medium & Large".
Most order buyers don't use the USDA feeder grades.
 

Brandonm22

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BC":1g5gcpv1 said:
Most order buyers don't use the USDA feeder grades.

True but your M&L 1s almost always bring more than your M&L 2s for the same sex at the same weight no matter the weather, the season, or whether the market is up or the market is down. And your 3s usually take an even bigger dock. Since the market is reported in USDA feeder grades, you need to be able to use the grading system to understand what your cattle SHOULD bring.
 

DOC HARRIS

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ArmyDoc":24t02zix said:
RD-Sam":24t02zix said:
http://www.skunkhouse.com/postings/10801/news/attachment/10423e10801.pdf

Thanks for the link. I found it to be very thorough and easy to understand. One question though, and maybe I just missed it in the main portion of the article. But on the last page, it says avoid mixed-age bull mating groups. What does it mean by this?

ArmyDoc-

In establishing "Bull Groups", it is advisable to group bulls of like ages together because older bulls will often 'mob' together and bully smaller and younger bulls, sometimes to the point of injuring them, permanently, or even killing them. One of the frequent problems which occurs, is a larger bull will attack and butt a smaller bull when he is mounting a cow, sometimes breaking a leg, or 'spraining' his penis, rendering him useless as a breeder.

Intensive Beef Cattle production is not always 'fun and games!'

DOC HARRIS
 
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