MINNEAPOLIS (October 29, 2008) – Contrary to popular dogma, the nation’s stocker producers buy lots more calves at and beyond average market prices than they do procuring bargains to sort up and grade up.

That’s one of the findings served up by the landmark National Stocker Survey (NSS) recently completed by BEEF Magazine. It’s the first time that the demographics, management practices and needs of the nation’s beef stocker and backgrounding industry has been assessed so broadly and deeply.

The year-long effort included stocker specialists from 11 Land Grant Universities and was sponsored by Elanco Animal Health. The sampling was designed to reflect the thoughts of stocker operators who represent approximately 70% of the nation’s stocker cattle.

“There’s a treasure trove of information here, some of it benchmarking what we’ve long believed about the stocker industry, and other data offering new perspectives,” says Dale Balsi, extension beef stocker specialist at Kansas Sate University (KSU). He coordinated the involvement of the Land Grant Universities in preparing and analyzing the study results.

In addition to identifying characteristics of producers exclusively involved in the stocker segment, the NSS also characterizes those who are also cow-calf producers, operate feedlots or do it all from cow-calf through the feedlot.

“That was also one of the surprises,” says Blasi. “We’ve always known that a number of cow-calf producers retain their calves to grow to heavier weights. The NSS data underscores the fact that a sizeable portion of cow-calf producers involved in the stocker business also buy a significant number of calves to stocker and background in addition to those from their own herds.”

In fact, the NSS data indicates cow-calf producers comprise the largest segment of stocker producers (64.6%), compared to 17.2% of stocker producers involved solely in that segment of the industry.

“The insight offered by this effort will help those in the industry identify opportunities. For those of us serving that industry, this information will help us utilize our resources most effectively in serving the industry,” Blasi emphasizes. “The stocker industry has always been a vital part of the U.S. beef industry that allows us to remain more competitive with other consumer protein sources than we otherwise could. As feed costs and cost of gain increases it becomes even more essential that we understand and serve that segment of the industry.”

Land Grant Universities participating in the NSS include: Auburn University, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Mississippi State University, North Carolina State University, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University, University of Florida, University of Missouri, University of Nevada, and Western Kentucky University.

For more data and details, go to and click on the 2007 National Stocker Survey button under the resources section (lower right corner).

BEEF, America's leading cattle publication, publishes 13 issues annually for cow-calf operators, stocker-growers, cattle feeders, veterinarians, nutritionists and allied industries, and provides a wide variety of industry news and information online at . BEEF is part of Penton Media’s extensive family of print and online agricultural brands, including National Hog Farmer®,, Hay & Forage Grower®, The Corn and Soybean Digest™, Farm Industry News®, and Farm Press® publications.

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