There have been a lot of changes made by beef producers throughout the years that have resulted in the product that many of us enjoy today. There’s also been a belief within the industry that rather than telling producers what breeds they should raise or what management practices they should embrace, producers should just be allowed to follow the money trail. Pete Scarmardo owns a livestock auction barn and is a cattle buyer.
“There’s so much difference in quality cattle. We’ve got cattle that we trade in the country. They background them. They’re weaned. They go in there. They’ve had all of their shots. The feed yard takes those cattle. They put them in a pen. And they put them on feed.”
Scarmardo says that feed yards have kept enough data on cattle through the years that they can very closely predict their performance.
“They know how those cattle hang up in the packing house. They know how they’re going to grade. They know how they’re going to yield. And there’s cattle, that we have people on the other end, the sets of cattle that we trade that tell us, whatever they cost, just go buy them. They may be four or five dollars or seven or eight dollars over what you think the market is, but they hang up so well in the packing house, they want to own them.”
Scarmardo points out that he also encounters the flip side of that.
“We’ve got strings of cattle that we buy that when we buy them, people will tell you, I don’t want them at any price. And you may think, well surely they’ve got some value. Well, we’ve bought those cattle several times, and those cattle, they’re too wild, they’re too crazy. They go to the back of the pen. They won’t eat. It takes them six weeks or eight weeks before they’ll ever come to the bunk, even start trying to eat. They don’t perform, because they never get enough consumption. They feed terrible. They hang up terrible. We want them at no price.”
Scarmardo stresses that it’s more important than ever before for producers to raise the highest quality animals they can.
“As a producer, you’ve got to keep and use as good of bulls as you can, on as good a set of cows that you can, and try to watch what the market is telling you to produce, so you can produce a product so that when you do bring it to your local auction, will bring the top of the market that day.”