Pay day. It’s the day or days many Americans look forward to each month so they can pay their debts, put away some savings and live life. But for many livestock producers, pay day comes once, maybe twice a year. Pay day comes on sale day and making sure you have everything ready to ensure the biggest paycheck possible.
The best way to maximize your profits is to offer the best product for your potential customers. If you are in the seedstock business, that means making sure you have bulls and females that meet the needs of your customers both from a phenotypic design and genotypic makeup. Do you have animals that are structurally sound on their feet and legs while carrying the adequate degree of muscle? Are your animals balanced in their traits or do they excel in the traits that are important to your customers, regardless of if those are carcass merit, growth or maternal?
Are you ready for your pay day? The bull market is competitive, as indicated by sale prices across the country. Make sure your bulls are in a good nutritional state, an ideal condition score that will attract the customers, while not being too fat or too thin.
Cory Schrag, owner of 605 Sires+Donors a full-service bull stud and E.T. Center, and Schrag 605 a registered Shorthorn and Maine-Anjou operation at Marion, South Dakota, recommends producers work with a local nutritionist to make sure bulls are getting a healthy ration to get them in nice, healthy condition. Body condition score or BCS is extremely subjective, both to the person feeding bulls and to the potential buyer, according to Schrag, but it is important to their visual appraisal and their overall performance.
“We don’t want them over conditioned so that when they get turned out on cows they melt down or they lose too much flesh,” Schrag said. “I think just as long as when you look at their visual appraisal and they’ve got some nice cover over their top and their back, that’s good. You don’t want them to look like they’re too skinny and you surely don’t want them to look too fat. Just bold and athletic. Looks like he can get around, his joints are good his feet are good, and it looks like he’s got some athleticism to him.”
In addition to playing a role in the overall health and nutrition of a bull, Schrag also said a high-quality mineral is important to the semen quality and reproductive health of the bulls. He suggests that bulls should be semen tested near 12 months of age. Depending on where that fits in regard to what age you sell them, you may want to semen test them again two weeks prior to your sale. For instance, if you sell bulls at 18-months or coming 2-year-olds, you will want to test them again. However, if you sell them as yearlings, he said you might want to wait and test them just prior to the sale or at delivery.
Working with bulls at the stud, Schrag has discovered a mineral program that has made a difference in semen quality.
“It is extremely important to make sure they’re on a good chelated mineral program to not only help their body condition score and their appearance, but it also helps with semen quality. We see a lot of bulls here through the stud where once they’ve switched to VitaFerm® mineral products the semen quality in the bulls we are collecting as well as those we are testing for the sale has increased substantially. Keeping them on a nice solid Concept•Aid® BioZyme mineral program is very important,” he said.
VitaFerm® Concept•Aid is a vitamin and mineral supplement designed specifically for reproductive success. Amaferm®, the key proprietary ingredient, is a precision prebiotic designed to enhance digestibility by amplifying nutrient supply for maximum performance. It is research-proven to increase the energy available to the animal for increased fertility. In addition, it contains organic copper, zinc and manganese to ensure maximum bioavailability of nutrients to the animal and high levels of vitamin E and selenium to promote optimized fertility.
Once you’ve got your bulls on a good plane of nutrition and on a high-quality mineral program, it’s time to think about the actual marketing of them through your production sale. Some operations take this on solo, while some hire marketing experts. Schrag said the benefit of hiring an outside marketing staff is the potential to reach more perspective buyers that you might not be aware of.
“I think in certain cases, these guys do help to get your message out. They do help to sell a few bulls, and they help make some personal potential buyer contacts. The marketing firms that are out there are doing a real nice job and help a good number of producers sell their livestock,” Schrag said.
Regardless of if you use a marketing firm or not, getting quality photographs of your animals to promote your sale is imperative. The ability to get your bulls lightly clipped and cleaned up will make a big difference in the photos and the marketing resources you develop. Cleaning off any mud balls, clipping heads, necks, sheaths and underlines will make a difference in the animal’s appearance without distracting from its natural quality.
“These could help the commercial guys sort the bulls as they like them, so I don’t think they need to be honed in like they’re ready to walk into a show ring, but just get some of the wild hairs off and get them cleaned up and represented in an honest original fashion. That’s what most commercial guys are looking for,” he said.
Once you have good quality photographs, using a combination of print advertising and social media will help you get the most reach for your potential customers. Schrag appreciates the broad spectrum of reach that a producer can get by advertising with a breed association and in state and regional livestock journals. Print advertising, combined with the online platforms today like websites, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter provide a nice balance and a diverse audience.
Pay day. If it only happens once or twice a year, you want to make sure you are getting every dollar possible. There is no “asking for a raise.” However, there could be “potential for a bonus” if you get your bulls on the right track nutritionally with a quality mineral from VitaFerm to get them in proper condition and keep them reproductively sound.