Feed Yard Questions

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Rob, I keep hearing that feedlots are doing a lot of source verification? Do you guys keep track of where cattle you buy come from? Thanks...

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> Rob Cook <A HREF="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]</A>

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Frankie, there is little doubt that more and more in the future there will be a value placed on individual animal performance and source verification. The problem really is identifying what that value is in terms of $/cwt, spreading that value across the production chain and accumulating the information so that the value can be more refined in the future. The other problem with the source verification and the associated value is that the cattle business is much like used cars with the benefit of the title. We can normally verify the last source on some cattle but most cattle placed in feedlots today are put together groups that vary significantly in terms of genetics, age, and background. At the other end of the source verification issue is the unwillingness of the packer to share most carcass information with us unless we sell on a grid. The quality of cattle that work well to sell on the grid are the ones that we really need the least amount of information on (i.e. high % choice, blacks). The lower end of the meat spectrum is really what we need to know the most about so that we can determine how much that bad cutting animal hurts the overall price of the fat cattle. Over the next several years, I would look for many feedlots to participate in two major activities that should speed the information collection process up significantly and allow us to place a value on specific traits which would in turn theoretically mean that if we could source verify the cattle could have a positive impact on the price you receive for those feeders. The first of these processes is individual animal induction. In a nutshell, this type of system would use objective measurements such as ultrasound, individual weight and consumption, etc to evaluate individual animal performance, sort and market as better groups. The second is a probable affiliation with certain retailers, packers and feeders to market branded products. This will mean that the uniformity of that product will have to be better than we can currently achieve without source verification.

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