New bulletin examines marketing costs when deciding which livestock market to use

Livestock producers should consider both marketing costs and price when looking at market options, according to a new bulletin from the University of Wyoming Extension.

Market prices tend to be considered first, but shrink and commission fees can be up to 90 percent of marketing costs for livestock, the authors stated.

Three different marketing options are shown with example costs and prices to help show producers which market might be best to their bottom lines.

“Which market gives me the best price for my cattle? Think about marketing costs as well as price!” B-1303, is available for viewing and free download by going to www.uwyo.edu/uwe and clicking the Find a Publication link. Type the name or bulletin number into the search fields. The bulletin is available in PDF, HTML or ePub formats.

UW Economists offer strategy for cattle producers facing brucellosis risk

One red, one black calf with yellow ear tags stand in field with hay feeder, trees, hills in back.
For producers considering a switch to stockers, there has been little guidance on how to transition the operation.

Imagine this: Your cattle contract brucellosis from infected elk. The cows abort their calves. When the federal government quarantines the herd of 400 for a year, you face costs up to $143,000. Not only are your profits from the cow-calf-yearling operation wiped out, your neighbor’s are too, as all potentially affected animals are quarantined until infected animals are identified and culled.

This threat brought cattle producers to the table with a team of University of Wyoming agricultural economists and other experts in 2013 in Worland, Wyoming. The researchers were asked to investigate the economics associated with different types of cattle operations and their ultimate profitability for producers in the region.

The result is “Economics of Transitioning from a Cow-Calf-Yearling Operation to a Stocker Operation as a Potential Strategy to Address Brucellosis Risk in Northwestern Wyoming.” The new publication is available as a free download from UW Extension at http://bit.ly/stockeroperation.

The risk of contracting the disease is greatest in the Greater Yellowstone Area of northwestern Wyoming where brucellosis is endemic in wild elk and bison populations. The switch to stockers eliminates this risk completely, says Christopher Bastian, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics and one of the publication’s authors.

Intact breeding females are replaced with stocker cattle. Stockers are males or females purchased in spring, fed and maintained until they reach a target weight, then sold. Steers and spayed heifers in a stocker operation cannot spread the disease to other animals.

The authors acknowledge the decision to switch doesn’t come easy. Analyses indicate the cow-calf-yearling operation is generally more profitable than the stocker operation. Brucellosis is the kicker.

“If you think you are at high risk of contracting brucellosis, it would only take one quarantine to negate the advantage of staying in a cow-calf-yearling operation rather than transitioning to stockers,” says Bastian.

This publication offers a starting point for producers in the Greater Yellowstone Area looking at alternative management strategies.

“No analyses to our knowledge have investigated the transition itself,” the authors explain. “Thus, for producers considering a switch to stockers, there has been little guidance on the economics of how best to transition to such an enterprise.”

Authors Shane Ruff, farm management specialist for the Kansas Farm Management Association and former graduate research assistant at UW; Bastian; Dannele Peck, director of the USDA Northern Plains Climate Hub and adjunct associate professor, UW Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics; and Walt E. Cook, assistant professor, Department of Veterinary Sciences, Texas A&M University offer comprehensive analyses for one-year and eight-year transitions, as well as remaining a cow-calf-yearling operation.

Here are some of their conclusions:

  • More total income could be available from the cow-calf-yearling operation if a producer is staying in the cattle business more than 20 years.
  • More total income could be available from the eight-year transition if a producer is staying in the cattle business 20 years or less.
  • A producer must consider the risks of infection versus profitability and income variability.
  • The switch to stockers (other than getting out of the cattle business altogether) is the only 100-percent effective strategy to avoid the costs associated with quarantine.

The guide is one of many free publications available at  bit.ly/UWEpubs, covering brucellosis, ranch budgets, finances and profitability and cattle markets and economics.

For more information, contact Bastian at (307) 766-4377 or bastian@uwyo.edu.

Why are these teens all smiles?

Bright-faced teens outside, 3 males in back, three females in front.
Gavin Simmons, Ian Siegusmund, Morgan Sanchez, Lukas Simmons, Mishelle Frame, and Torree Spatig of Uinta County are among the first enrolled in ANSC 1009. The UW course is open to all Wyoming 4-H’ers in high school.

They’re honing their animal production skills (and earning college credit) in a new University of Wyoming course, Introduction to Animal Science (ANSC 1009), which connects high school students with UW via field experiences, extension workshops, online content, and Zoom conference calls with animal science professors. To read more and learn ways UW Extension connects with Wyoming, see CONNECT 2017.