By Matt Woolfolk, Field Representative & Commercial Marketing Director
Fall sale season is officially in overdrive, and all signs indicate that the softer feeder calf market is not putting a damper on the demand for Beefmaster genetics. The early fall sales are reporting higher averages than last year, and interest in the upcoming events across the country is encouraging.
What makes the fall sale season unique in our breed is that the majority of Beefmaster bulls are sold during this time. Some of you may be in the market for a new herd sire to add to your operation, while others are selling their young bulls to commercial customers. Whether you’re buying or selling, matching the right bull to a set of cows is not a quick and easy task. Here are a few tips that will aid you in the process.
1. Do your homework. Regardless of which side of the market you are on, it’s important to have done some research before the sale. As a buyer, take a look at your operation to identify the strengths of your cowherd, as well as areas that you want to improve through sire selection. It’s hard to make progress when you don’t know what needs improvement. On the selling end, having a great knowledge of each bull in your sale pen will better enable you to identify the right bulls for each of your customers.
2. Ask Questions. Again, this is a point that is important for both sides of the market. If you’re bull shopping, ask the breeder about how they manage their cows and develop their bulls. If possible, ask to see the dams and sisters of the bulls. Gathering more information helps you make an even more informed decision. When someone comes to your place to buy bulls, asking them about their operation is part of good customer service. It allows you to get to know your potential buyer, as well as gives you information to help them better select a bull that meets their needs and will be successful in their herd.
3. Don’t let data overwhelm you. There’s a LOT of numbers to decipher when looking for a new bull: weights, ultrasounds, test results, ratios, EPDs. It can be a little overwhelming! All this information is a good tool to have when buying or selling bulls. Take the time to become familiar with any information you might not understand. If you’re selling bulls, knowing and being able to explain this information to your customers could be a huge selling point.
4. Structure is vital. I saved the most important point for the end. When you’re doing your homework before the sale, you find what you think is the perfect bull for you on paper. Evaluate his skeletal structure in person, making sure he is built to work in your herd for several years. A bull with unsatisfactory feet and legs cannot travel the pasture and do his job as a breeding bull. Just like an injured athlete can’t play, an unsound bull can’t work in your herd.
I could say a lot about the importance of herd bull selection. In fact, I probably will do so in a future BBU Educational Seminar. For now, these tips should help you if you’re in the market this fall. Best of luck in your bull search!