Nebraska feedyard owner Fred Schroeder focuses on premium opportunities in managing all aspects of his 1,000 head feedyard. Grid premiums, age verification, targeting seasonal markets, sourcing quality supply, and watching costs keep him a very busy manager. His feeding style and procurement of good cattle is the key to profitability for the quality driven grids he uses.
Like many “farmer-feeders” in the industry Schroeder has come to rely on these grid premiums to offset the advantages the larger feedyards realize through feeding volume. Schroeder feeds a lot of his own corn, and he looks for ways to compete in an industry which is becoming dominated by large yards who can feed cheaper by averaging costs our over tens of thousands of cattle turned several times per year.
Schroeder was skeptical when he fed his first set of Braunvieh cattle. English bred cattle were what was known to grade and what he had experience feeding. When it came time to market his first Braunvieh cattle, Schroeder mixed them with some Angus cattle and the overall results were beyond his expectations. As he fed and marketed more Braunvieh influenced cattle he had the individual data collected. Needless to say, the data got him very interested in Braunvieh cattle. In February 2005, he had a set of Braunvieh cattle grade 90 percent choice, 50 percent premium grades with a 2.8 Yield Grade and brought $147.10 per cwt. The Angus cattle he fed during the same time period, brought $143.39 and graded 79 percent choice, 43 percent premium grade and also Yield graded 2.8.
Since then, Schroeder has fed out several sets of Braunvieh influence cattle. Not so long ago he asked an order buyer to find him some quality cattle which he would be able to grid market. At the same time, he bought about the same number of sourced Braunvieh feeder calves from numerous sources. From late 2005 to early 2006 the 262 head of non Braunvieh cattle did make $4.64 per cwt or about $37 per head above the cash price. But the 177 head of Braunvieh cattle made $6.49 per cwt or about $52 per head premium.
Ultrasound has been one tool used to project proper grid marketing dates. Schroeder has been targeting a high choice end point as the choice select spread has been higher than yield grade 4 discounts. The added grid value found in the Braunvieh cattle came mostly from upper 2/3 choice premiums. According to Schroeder, “As long as yield grade is not getting too high you have a chance to improve quality grade. The cost of over shooting is less than the cost of under shooting on the grid.” Now with cost of corn Schroeder feels there is still opportunity. “If the bigger yards start short feeding cattle, the higher resulting grid premiums available will make feeding to a quality end point still work,” explains Schroeder. “In any case this will be a win-win deal if they grade quicker and Braunvieh have graded quicker than my non Braunvieh.”
John Schroeder, Cargill Meat Solutions cattle buyer, can attest to Schroeder's success and says, “Fred has had a lot of success gridding cattle over the years. As a marketer he definitely knows what he's doing. Braunvieh sourced cattle have really worked and the Braunvieh from his summer grazing program have worked exceptionally well.”
With their proven success, Braunvieh continue to be an important part of the management plan at Schroeder Corn and Cattle. Schroeder Corn and Cattle is also one of the first Braunvieh Association of America Approved Feedyards. Schroeder's 2006 grass program consisted of 300 head of almost exclusive Braunvieh bred calves which were also Source and Age Verified through the Samson PVP program he works with. Those cattle are now going to market and Schroeder is once again relying on them to make a premium and see Braunvieh genetics help his close outs.