The Kerr Center has long emphasized the need for sound economics as an essential element of sustainable agriculture: no matter how environmentally friendly the farming system, it won’t last long if it loses money.
Much of the time, practical advice and training on that point focuses on reducing costs – but there’s ground to be gained on the increasing-income side of the equation as well. At sale time, ranchers have some options for getting the best prices they possibly can.
Over the decades, the Kerr Center has explored several of those options – specialty sales, direct marketing – and still finds a place for many of them depending on the circumstances.
For the past several years, though, the Kerr Center livestock program has been selling most of its animals through a televised auction service.
A truckload – fifty thousand pounds of beef – is the minimum qualifying amount. The auction service sends a representative to the ranch to record video of the cattle and write up a contract specifying the target weight and the sale date.
Auctions happen every two weeks. The seller can specify a minimum, and the representative can push for that – but if the bids don’t get high enough, the seller has the option to decline them and try again the next time around.
If the sale doesn’t go through, there’s a $2 per head fee to cover paperwork and overhead. When a sale does go through, the auction service charges a 2% commission, and the buyer pays the trucking costs.
Being free of hormone implants and antibiotics, the Kerr Center’s animals qualify as “all natural,” which brings a $2 per hundredweight premium.