USU Extension agent
The average size cow herd in the United States is now less than 40 head. Most cattle operations are smaller with the owners working other jobs off the ranch.
One of the major problems with having a smaller herd is the loss of leverage in the market place. If an owner does not have enough animals to make a semi-truck load, they are at a disadvantage.
The smaller rancher has very few choices in how to market his product. Basically, the rancher can take the calves to the local auction barn or wait until an order buyer has some room on a semi-load that is being put together. Either choice generally results in a lower price.
Five years ago, a group of small cattle operators in San Juan County got together and organized the San Juan County Calf Pool. By combining herds in the fall to make semi-loads, these ranchers increase their options for marketing their product.
The past four years, this group has sold their calves by consigning them to a video livestock auction.
Through the video process, the calves are shown to hundreds of buyers across the nation. This results in more competition and higher prices for the local product.
Each year the members of the pool meet to discuss marketing strategies and what will be the best way to sell the calves in the coming year.
The San Juan County Calf Pool is open to any cattle producers in the county, and has welcomed new ranchers each year.
For information on participating in the pool contact Jim Keyes at 435-459-1825.