Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Marketing Strategy – Ignore Conventional Wisdom

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Just had to let you in on this one.

I’ve already told you that grassfed beef is way more profitable right now (and probably always has been) if you direct market your beef. Lots more work in dealing with people and lining up clients. But then, you aren’t having to do anything but move fences once or twice a day, so you have the time.

Now, getting into your back-end (backup) market is even simpler. Just move your birthing window into late spring.

The logic of this is pretty cool. Look the worst prices for cattle (traditionally, not necessarily this year) are in Sep – Nov when people are culling their herds before they have to feed them all winter. Also the lowest prices for feeder calves are then – as people are weaning their calves which were born in February.

Best prices are in May and June. We used to sell our fat-cattle at auction then, meaning they were about 16 months old and kept fed in a feedlot all winter and spring.

Our best price-break for grassfed beef, as I’ve mentioned, is to sell stockers (yearlings) – since you only have to feed them through one winter on hay.

The idiocy of birthing in February is the weather. Calves can get pneumonia and frost-bite. However, birthing in June is just before the worst of the fly season. Also not good for cattle. Best time for birthing is when the calves can be born on fresh grass and their mothers have had a nice diet of grass for a couple of months prior. Fresh vitamins and nutrients all around, plus clean bedding.

Birthing in April-May gives you “yearlings” which are 13-14 months old – and that’s your backup for culling your heard heading into summer. That’s also when you’d preg-check your cows and send the open ones to auction (or market them as hamburger). And then you wean at about 10-11 months, when it’s much less stress on both cows and calves – not the traditional 7 they use these days. Wean in March – again, when the worst weather is usually over and the pastures are greening up.

You sell when the market is high and the the cattle are in the best shape. (Of course, if you want the best prices at auction, you only sell 100% black Angus steers which look a little gaunt – not any with pot-bellies. Buyers figure they can put a lot more weight on them.)

But if you’re direct-marketing, it doesn’t matter what color they are, just how good they taste.

Just wanted to let you in on this really obvious way to raise cheaper, easier beef.