You've reached the Virginia Cooperative Extension Newsletter Archive. These files cover more than ten years of newsletters posted on our old website (through April/May 2009), and are provided for historical purposes only. As such, they may contain out-of-date references and broken links.

To see our latest newsletters and current information, visit our website at

Newsletter Archive index:

Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

The Cattle Business -- Genetic Influence Feeder Cattle Sales

Livestock Update, January 2000

Bill McKinnon, Extension Animal Scientist, Virginia Tech

This fall, there were two excellent examples of marketing packaged groups of feeder calves with at least 50% of the genetics known. Both the Whitestone Farm Influence calf sale and the Red Angus sponsored teloauction field sale netted the consignors distinct price advantages for their cooperation.

On November 1, the Mason Dixon Red Angus Association coordinated the sale of 3 lots of Red Angus influence steers and 2 lots of heifer calves. The steers sold included a load of 83 head averaging 600 pounds that sold for $82.75/cwt. with 61 of the steers being red or red white-faced cattle. The second lot of 78 steer calves weighing 525 pounds with only 5 black hided cattle brought $85.10/cwt. The third lot of 26 steers weighed 675 pounds and sold for $79/cwt. When compared to similar weight, grade, and breeds of cattle sold in special graded sales that week, the Red Angus sponsored steers averaged an additional $6.94/cwt. or $40.22 per head advantage.

The two groups of Red Angus represented heifers also sold well. One lot of 83 heifers weighing 565 pounds brought $77/cwt. while a smaller lot of 41 heifers averaging 500 pounds sold for $74.10/cwt. On average, the heifers brought an advantage of $3.64/cwt. or $19.79 per head over similar cattle sold in special sales that same week.

Another example of marketing specific genetic packages was demonstrated in the Whitestone Farm Influence Feed Calf and Replacement Heifer Sale. Whitestone Farm organized the sale for their bull customers. The 343 head sale was held at Front Royal on November 10. The steers brought an average advantage of $6.43/cwt. over similar special graded sale cattle that week or a total of $37.41 per head. Of special note, the 6-weight steers brought a $8.91 premium. The heifer calves netted a $2.01/cwt. advantage for the week. Several of the cattle in the sale were tagged as Virginia Quality Assured feeder cattle. The VQA steers netted an additional $2.17 per hundredweight or non-tagged calves while the VQA heifers sold for a $.96/cwt. advantage.

The success of both the Red Angus and Whitestone sales may be demonstrating the effect of grouping identified specific genetic packages for sale. Our local graded sales try to do the best job they can in grouping feeder cattle into similar packages and yet marketable packages. It is an unfortunate fact of doing business in today's industry that hide color probably has little to say about the actual genetic package. We tend to group cattle into pens by hide color, but may not have actually narrowed the growth and carcass outcomes by doing so. Whenever we have the opportunity to group larger numbers of similar genetic packages for sale, the marketplace usually takes notice.

Visit Virginia Cooperative Extension