Featured photo: USDA, Don Tanaka

Groups of beef producers in northern NY and central NY have united in a cooperative marketing effort to build a reputation for quality and consistency that over time will increase price of their feeder cattle. For the first time, they will jointly supply animals to the New York Feeder Calf Pool Sale. The auction sale is scheduled for December 16 at 3:30 p.m. facilitated by Empire Livestock in Dryden, NY. The cattle will remain on farms until picked up by the buyer.

The format of the feeder calf pool allows animals to be purchased sight unseen, based on grading and grouping into lots of similar animals by the USDA Agricultural Market Service. Levi Geyer of the USDA AMS provided the grading for the December 16 sale. The animals are graded and remain on the farm until picked up at a centralized location by the buyer within 7 days of the sale.

Working together to provide a large number of animals graded to USDA standards to the pool, the two groups of livestock producers build efficiency and strength in numbers given that individually several producers maintain small herds that cannot carry a sale on their own.

To assure quality and consistency for buyers, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has developed three general value determining characteristics for grading animals provided to the feeder calf pool: frame size, thickness and thriftiness. These feeder calf grades are accepted across the U.S. and allow cattle to be purchased sight unseen. Research on the prices of feeder cattle in New York State shows that local buyers have accepted these grades to determine fair market value and the price they will pay.

The cattle entered into the pool for December 16 have all been vaccinated and boostered, treated for internal and external parasites and weaned for at least 30 days. The weight of the animals is estimated on the farm with final sale weight determined with certified scales on the day of pickup.

Marketing feeder cattle through this type of pool reduces stress on the cattle by minimizing the time spent in the marketing process and in transport. Cattle that are properly vaccinated, treated for internal and external parasites and weaned for an appropriate amount of time prior to the sale and transport remain healthier.

Weights have been estimated on the farm; final sale weights will be determined using certified scales on the day of pick up. If scale weights are different than advertised weights, a price slide is applied.