Check your cattle marketing mindset

A volatile market can challenge your thinking, but you have more control than you think.

Doug Ferguson

May 6, 2022

6 Min Read
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Watch each Friday for Doug Ferguson's Market Intel blog on Beef Producer and BEEF magazine.vectorbomb-ThinkstockPhotos

I have been telling my daughter for years to pay attention to what is happening around her, and to really see what it is she is looking at. At my marketing schools I spend some time talking about having a higher level of awareness. I practice what I preach, so that means I spend time watching people and what they do. I have been watching some things manifest and how people have reacted. This reaction has given me a crystal clear view of the value of some people.

I am sure we all realize people have value. Here is the part that is hidden. It is that person’s self-image of themselves that sets that value. If a person sees themself as just a "broke farmer" who is dirt rich and cash poor, that is exactly what that person will be. If a person believes they can’t make money in the cattle business because someone or something in the market is corrupt, and out to get them, guess what? They will find a way to self sabotage themselves when marketing cattle.

That last line will sound silly to the mainstream because that is all they talk about. Thoughts repeated over and over in our conscious mind get suppressed into our subconscious mind. The subconscious mind acts as an auto pilot. This is why, if you believe you can’t make money because of someone or something being corrupt, you have just screwed yourself before the cattle even left your place.

What we think about, we bring about. That is how powerful our thoughts are. Every great philosopher or leader throughout time has agreed on one thing: Man becomes what he thinks about. They’ve disagreed on almost everything else.

Here’s a scary thought. We think our thoughts in our head are private. They are not. Since we become what we think about, and create what we anticipate our thoughts are really out there on full display for the world to see.

Here is what is scarier. We can control our thoughts. Everything begins with a thought. If we start to think negative, we need to change the channel, we need to change our thoughts. If we don’t like the situation, we are in we must remember "attitude is more important than fact". If we change our thought to a positive one, we can change our attitude about the situation. I have taught this stuff to my 11 year old daughter, and my wife and I have witnessed her talk her self-talk herself out of a mental rut in basketball, and in turn have an outstanding practice. If my 11 year old can do it, grownups should be able to

Here is what is even scarier. We have a choice in everything we do. Some people made a choice to think of themselves as a "broke farmer" That decision has brought on most, not all, hardships they have faced.

Are you under- or over-valued?

Every week I write here about relationships between cattle. Some are under-valued, and some are over-valued. I would say that the "broke farmer" example I am using here is under-valued. We can easily find someone who is better. The issue I have here is it was a conscious decision on his part that devalued himself.

On the other hand we have people that are over-valued. Just like with cattle some are somewhat over valued, and some are greatly over-valued. The ones that I am calling somewhat over valued are above average, and they deliver exactly what we expect them to deliver.

Some people are greatly over-valued. They have done a fantastic job branding themselves. These people can over charge for public speaking and doing workshops. That’s great for them, and if they got to that point, they probably earned it. The reason I am calling them greatly over-valued is because they fail to deliver or meet expectations. The funny thing about that is, is that when we feel like they didn’t live up to our expectations we right away ask ourselves "what did I miss?" We assume it’s our fault somehow.

I also believe we appreciate and depreciate in value. As our kids grow, and learn, and gain experience they appreciate in value. At this point accidents and mistakes are part of the learning process. Part of appreciating is value is getting the right kind of education (just in case you’re wondering what the "right kind" is, there is no diploma at the end). You have heard that investing in yourself pays the best interest. That is because the market is always bullish when you invest in yourself.

When we are older our minds and bodies start to fail us, this is the depreciation phase. At this point accidents and mistakes are a sign it’s over. The value here is experience and wisdom, which should have been, and should still be, passed along by sharing that with the next generation.

You may have heard that you are an average of the 5 or 10 people you hang around with the most. What a fantastic gift that is, we get to pick what our average will be! Pick people that will boost your average. And don’t be worried about ghosting people that pull your average down. Mom was right on this one when she warned us about hanging out with certain people when we were younger. If you hang out with people that make stupid decisions, it is only a matter of time before you make a stupid decision. Hang out with people who respond rather than react, and who make good decisions, and raise your average.

A view from the market

Last week we saw the drought sell off get up to full song. A week’s worth of time has changed everything. We are now near flood like conditions. With all this rain I fully expected the female markets to get a huge boost. That last line is proof that we can’t predict what the market will do.

The females I saw sell this week sold right at their intrinsic value, or salvage value. The value you got depended on the auctioneer. This was interesting for me to watch because I was witnessing an auctioneer devalue cattle by his premature decision to split pairs instead of backing them up a little more to get them started. One auctioneer is certainly worth more than the other one.

The female sales I saw were part of the regular weekly auctions. Due to the muddy conditions here I did not find the time to go to a female special. I am sure the price structure was much different at those sales.

Feeder markets were again a broken record. Cattle under 600-pounds had the greatest value of gain, then it drops off below cost of gain. The one change was that cattle weighing over 800-pounds had a higher VOG this week. Even though they got the boost in VOG they are still a great buy back against fats.

This week feeder bulls were up to 25 back, and unweaned cattle were 6-12 back. I really need to underscore the value of weaning right now. I witnessed some groups of cattle sell this week where it was clear weaning went off the rails. The fact that those cattle were weaned was more important than the health status and condition of those cattle.

The opinions of Doug Ferguson are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress

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