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Talking beef with John Gibson

By Chad Hobbs

 John Gibson is the facility manager for United Producers, Inc. stockyards in Irvington, KY and also at Little York, IN. He solicits, bids on and ships cattle for those facilities. He has spent most of his life doing this and raising a herd on his cattle farm. He set down this past week to talk about the success of the Yellow Tag sale held recently and the state of the cattle market.

 As was reported last week, around 1,200 head of cattle were sold at this special sale. Gibson said he felt it went great, averaging around a ten cent per pound premium over market prices. With fat cattle prices stagnant, this offered incentive for the extra steps that must be taken for producers’ feeder cattle to qualify for this special sale.

 “The main focus of this program is for the small producers because we take those people who have ten to one hundred head that will get put in five different sizes that won’t make a semi load (if sold by themselves),” explained Gibson. “They’ve all had the same vaccinations and same weaning program and make load lots to ship.”

 By comingling all the producers cattle in the larger load lots by weight, bigger buyers attend the sale than what would often be found at just a normal auction day. In fact, many of the cattle sold at the yellow tag sale were bought by farmer feeders to go to their feedlots in Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois.

 The majority of these feeder cattle were between 400-800 pounds with several outliers. Farmer feeders will take those cattle and market their grain and silage “on the hoof” by using it to fatten these cattle out to about 1,400 pounds, which they then sell to packers as fat cattle.

 “I think the market (for feeder cattle) is pretty good compared to the way that the fat cattle are selling,” stated Gibson when asked about the state of the current market. “I don’t think you can pencil profit in if you bought the feeder cattle now. You’re just hoping the market comes to you as far as what the fats are selling for.”