The dilemma isn't in creating value in feeder cattle. That's relatively straightforward, even if it is a challenge to implement. You just utilize the very best genetics available to the industry, manage them effectively so as not to harm the genetic value in the calves, and make sure they have the nutritional and herd health programs in place that allow you to maximize that value.
Rather, the challenge is in capturing the value you have created. But, the answer to that question isn't rocket science, either. However, it does require a totally different mindset than what we're used to in a commodity system where virtually all cattle bring the same price.
Most producers spend far more time fixing fence than marketing their cattle. Even when we do market, we often turn it over to someone else and hope they truly care about what our individual calves bring and aren't primarily focused on the aggregate average or keeping happy the small core of buyers who make their marketing system function.
If producers are going to capture the value they're creating in their calves, they must take a more active role in marketing them. In many respects, the commercial industry can look to the seedstock segment for a premonition of where things are heading.
It's not only about market timing, but price point acquisition. We must have a story to tell and do an effective job of getting that information into the proper hands in the rest of the production cycle.
The exciting thing is that the value of good cattle is increasing relative to the average, so there is more opportunity. But that's true only if one has the information and data available on the cattle to share – and the commitment to do it. Of course, capturing value also means partnering with segments further up the chain, and accepting a little more interdependence.
The good news is that for those producers who believe their responsibilities end at the ranch gate, the next 3-5 years will be such a seller's market that they will find no difficulty in selling their cattle either.