Added value is everywhere you look. Buy a fishing pole, the store adds in some tackle and a box. Go to the grocery store, and the meat case already has fajita meat and veggies chopped up and marinated together; all you have to do is throw it on your grill. The kicker is, without realizing it, the consumer is probably paying a premium for these value-added products. Wouldn’t it be nice to be paid a premium for your calves at sale time?
Value-added programs are out there for producers to capture premiums on cattle, and they exist in a variety of forms. Simply, they add value to what typically might be considered a commodity product – beef. Value-added programs exist for genetics, breed make up, source, management practices, health and nutrition.
“Value-added programs increase a producer’s bottom line and help develop the reputation of a quality producer who is working at producing a superior product,” said John Tucker, BioZyme’s Large Beef Account Specialist.
For example, some breed associations offer value-added programs that verify the breed make-up, such as Angus, Hereford and Red Angus. Many feed lots look for groups of these cattle due to carcass traits or to further go into branded beef programs that require specific characteristics. Further, some producers within each breed also have their own source and genetic-verified programs where they pay premiums to producers who use their bulls so they can gather and collect carcass data on specific carcass groups.
Age-verification often works synergistically with source-verification and is required for export. Age verification is generally as simple as recording your calving dates; something most producers do regularly so why not get paid for it?
Other value-added programs are based on management decisions like health and nutrition. Those might be run through cooperatives, nutrition companies, auction markets and other agribusinesses and marketing firms. There are numerous vaccination programs that require cattle to be vaccinated with specific treatments at a specific time prior to sale. Certain “VAC” programs might also specify how many days the calves should be weaned prior to sale like 45 or 60 days as well. Always check with your veterinarian to ensure the proper vaccinations are given. Naturally raised, grass-fed and hormone-free are examples of other management value-based programs that producers might want to consider if they work into their scenarios.
In recent years, producers started receiving premiums by adding value to their nutrition program with the Gain Smart® or VitaFerm® Raised programs and marketing calves through Superior Livestock. These were the first two nutrition value-added programs that Superior recognized in its suite of value-added programs. Calves must be on a Gain Smart mineral 45 days prior to sale through delivery or raised on a VitaFerm-fed cow or be eating a VitaFerm mineral for the same time period. Buyers recognize that the Amaferm® advantage creates healthier calves that will go on to feed faster, and often those calves will meet the criteria for other value-added programs like NHTC and all-natural as well.
Adding value is an investment, but it is one worth making. You might need to pay for a dangle or EID tag. The investment might be time and paperwork, or you might have to pay for a third-party verification. With the Gain Smart program, you’re investing in a nutrition program, but you were hopefully going to offer your calves a mineral supplement, so why not offer them a high-quality mineral that will help them stay in other programs? The return generally outweighs the investment and not only will increase your bottom line but will build your reputation as a quality beef producer.
“When I think of quality producers, I think of those who feed VitaFerm or Amaferm. I can count on one hand the number of commodity producers, those who just feed a hodge podge of cattle, who feed Amaferm,” Tucker said. “In a program like NHTC, Amaferm provides the ionophores to capture what an implant would do for the cattle.”
Don’t just raise commodity beef. Capture the premiums you deserve. There are programs that fit every shape and size out there. Nutrition from Gain Smart will help your calves gain efficient, healthy pounds. Let our program help you stay on your program.