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The Cattle Business -- Buckingham Virginia Quality Assured Cattle Sale

Livestock Update, September 1998

Bill R. McKinnon, Extension Animal Scientist, Marketing, Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech

The Buckingham Cattlemen's Association sold over 1,000 feeder cattle on August 3 through the Virginia Cattlemen's Association's telo-auction sale. All of the cattle offered for sale were certified through Virginia Quality Assured (VQA) feeder cattle program. The cattle were certified for both the gold and purple VQA tag levels with the calves being sold directly off their mothers. The cattle were sold in 15 lots with all but four of the lots estimated to weigh at least 47,900 pounds. The cattle were presorted into 12 lots of steer calves with average weights of the loads ranging from 555 to 750 pounds and 3 lots of heifers with average weights ranging from 540 to 650 pounds.

The 1,000 plus feeder cattle came from 21 producer members of the Buckingham association. Work toward the August 3 sale began months earlier with producers working the required VQA vaccinations into their herd management programs. According in VQA guidelines all the cattle were vaccinated against IBR, BVD, PI3, 7 strain clostridial, and pasteurella. The Buckingham cattle additionally received a vaccination from Haemophilus somnus. The cattle were graded and the weights estimated by VDACS graders during the week of July 20 - 24. The leadership of the association then worked to put the members' cattle into relatively uniform load lots. The information related to the cattle was sent by the VCA along with information on 11 other loads of cattle to a large list of prospective buyers. On the evening of August 3, there were 71 participants in the telo-auction conference call -- a record number for VCA sponsored sales.

There was substantial anxiety for sellers before the sale given that the feeder cattle futures market had been down three days in a row by a $1 each day. Losses at the feedlot level continue to drag on the feeder cattle market. When compared with similar types (sex, grade, breed, and weight) of feeder cattle sold in VCA sponsored graded sales, the Buckingham VQA calves averaged $4.67 per hundredweight higher. All of the lots of steer cattle brought more than the top steer prices quoted at Oklahoma City that week. A more complete analysis is provided in the following table.

Buckingham VQA Calves Compared to VCA Graded Sales
Weight# of Head Sold      Price Advantage
500-599 lb.       167+$8.18
600-699 lb.454+$5.14
700-799 lb.173+$4.56
500-599 lb.89+$2.79
600-699 lb.133+$0.46

Overall Weighted Price Advantage
$4.56 per hundredweight
or $27.79 per head on
638 lb. average sale weight

On the day of take-up, the cattle were hauled from the producers' farms to the Lynchburg Livestock Market where the cattle were weighed, sorted in load lots, and loaded on the buyers' trucks. The Lynchburg market also handled the financial transaction to provide for a bonded agent.

The August telo-auction sale was targeted by the Buckingham Cattlemen's Association to suit the needs of the local fall calving herds. The association plans to market additional loads of cattle later in the fall to fit other members' needs. The local association members have also consigned 40 heifer calves to be sold as replacement heifers at the Knoll Crest Farm bull sale after the first of the year. The efforts of the Buckingham group represent a horizontal alliance at work.

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