"If those calves were sent to market last spring when they were about 6 months old, they would have brought between five and six hundred dollars a head, and we would have sold them by the pound. We’re not selling performance here, we’re selling a confirmation, a look, so to speak. We’re selling halter animals that basically represent the industry of what is ideal, so they need to be in the top one to two per cent of the entire industry."
Jim Mazurkiewicz considers himself a cow/calf producer, but his show calf operation has higher input costs than the typical commercial beef operation.
"My costs include artificial insemination, buying the semen, the technician, embryo transfer, synchronization, those costs certainly add up when you bring that into the equation."
Show calves ultimately end up on someone’s plate, but not before they’ve competed in the show ring.
"I’d say the mean average on the price of these steers that people pay per head is about $1800 to $2000 per head. Of course, there’s cattle that bring less than that, and some that bring more than that."
"These are my daughters calves, but if these were sold outright by the head, those calves may have brought anywhere from $5000 to $7500 a piece."
And though the odds are against it, somebody’s steer will be judged the best of the best, and that could mean some big money.
"Let’s say the grand champion steer in Houston brings about $75,000 to the kid, the reserve about $30,000 and each of the breed champions are guaranteed $15,000. My daughter was fortunate and reserve champion Chianina brought $12,500. First places are all guaranteed $6,000, seconds $5,000, thirds $3,500, $3,000, and $2,500 and the rest of the cattle are guaranteed at least $2,000 per head."
When it’s all said and done, stock shows just facilitate a little higher level of competition to produce that savory steak that brings a premium price. I’m Joe Brown, tracing the journey our food makes from the ranch to our tables, From The Ground Up.