Get With the Program.... Calf Clubs Still Pay!

With the record calf prices in the fall of 2014, some producers believed that you could sell anything for good dollars and not worry about being part of a reputable prescribed sale.

Well, many sold for what seemed good dollars, but the Calf Rama week at Keady proved that even in a hot market buyers recognize and pay for the assurance of a good feedlot prep program [castrated, dehorned, bunk adjusted, vaccinated] and well- presented calves. As Table 1 shows, all 4 of the special calf club sales brought the consignors home significant dollars over the Ontario average prices in the same week.

The number of 500-600 lb steer calves on the market moved from 1076 (the week previous to Calf Rama) up to 2079 during Calf Rama week, and then back down to 997 the next week. The Ontario price for this category did a 6-7 cents/lb jump for Calf Rama, then dropped down 5 cents/lb for the week following. Similar results were seen for heifers. Note that the Calf Rama calves are included in the Ontario averages for the week, so the difference is actually even more pronounced.

Table 1. Calf Club Price Results for Fall 2014 vs Ontario Market1


Ontario Market
(Includes Calf Rama Sales)

Oct 24 - 30

Keady Calf Rama Week Sales
Bruce Peninsula2
Bluewater Black Calf4
Central Calf5
500-600 lb steers
($/cwt )


$ value @550 lb
$ difference/hd
(Calf Rama -Ontario)
500-600 lb heifers
$ value @550lbs
$ difference/hd
(Calf Rama- Ontario)

1all prices from Beef Farmers of Ontario Weekly Market Reports. @ BFO
2Bruce Peninsula Calf Club Sale
3Georgian Bay Premium Charolais Calf Association- Pre-sort sale
4Bluewater Black Calf Club Sale- Pre-sort sale
5Central Calf Association Sale

Table 2 compares the average of Calf Rama prices with the estimated prices from non-club Ontario sales during the same week.

Table 2. Calf Club Price Results for Fall 2014 vs . Non-club Prices1

Ontario Market Excluding Calf Rama Sales2
Oct 24 - 30
Calf Rama Sales Only
Oct 24 - 30
500-600 lb steers ($/cwt)
$ value @550 lb
$ difference/hd (Calf Rama-Ontario)
500-600 lb heifers ($/cwt)
$ value @550lbs
$ difference/hd(Calf Rama-Ontario)

1 all prices from Beef Farmers of Ontario Weekly Market Reports. @ BFO
2 estimated using provincial price summary and Calf Rama data

The estimated price advantage for the Calf Rama sales was dramatic - an additional $300/hd for steers and $237/hd for heifers. This works out to +55 cents/lb for steers and +43 cents/lb for heifers!

In studies over 10 years the numbers show that Calf Club Program Sales have excelled for cow-calf producers in a down market, an average market, and now in a hot market.
The logical suggestion from this would be to "Get with the Program"!

So what does that mean to me when I start planning for the 2016 calf crop? It means now is the time to start planning how those calving hitting the ground in will be marketed. Consider linking up with one of the many calf club or other special sales across the province which feature properly prepared, feedlot -ready calves. Research their particular protocol. The basics of castration and dehorning are best done as close to birth as possible. The question of which vaccines to use, and their timing, may be dictated by what sale you hope to be part of.

So pick a program, talk to the club or sales facility and find out what you need to do to make your calves "fit the program". Then do it and …"Get with the Program".

Click here to view other Virtual Beef articles

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300