For many producers, it is a one-time-a-year shot at making ends meet, satisfying bank notes and setting the pace for the next year on a positive note.

Tim Larson of Sidney, Montana, knows the pressure sale day can bring, as he himself is a cattle operator and an order buyer for Prewitt and Company, a long-time cattle marketing service based in Montana.

While the fall calf run is slowly starting to swing into action, Larson speculates on the months ahead and how the feeder calf market will shake out.

He believes good prices will hold and premiums will continue to be paid for cattle off of ranches that have taken a few extra measures.

Larson says don’t be surprised if order buyers place competitive bids for calves that are non-hormone- treated, natural, preconditioned or age-verified and source-verified.


“Natural cattle are really kind of king right now,” says Larson. “There seems to be quite a demand for natural yearlings and even calves.”

He adds that some people have said the premium for age and source cattle will go away, but he doesn’t see that happening any time soon.

He encourages his cattle producers to have the proper paperwork in place and work with companies that can verify age and source.

“People like to know where their product is coming from. Whether it is from overseas or right here,” says Larson of the value in the extra work.

Larson places a fair amount of the cattle he procures from Montana and North Dakota into Nebraska and Iowa feedlots.

He says the farmer/feeders he is working with are looking for high-quality cattle that are uniform in composition and performance.

Genetics is a factor order buyers do keep their eye on. If your calves are from a cattle operation with a solid breeding program, Larson says those efforts will be realized on sale day.

Does hide color matter? Larson says “no.” He says every breed has its merits and it is up to cattle producers to bring those merits to the top.

He says all the breed associations have done such a great job of promoting their own breeds or branded beef programs that it is very easy to find a market for any breed of cattle.

Larson says, as an order buyer, he is looking for cattle off of ranches that have done all they can to help their cattle perform to the best of their ability.

“I am looking for what I call ‘all the bells and whistles,’” says Larson. “It sure helps sell the product when they have them.”

The “bells and whistles” Larson noted are non-hormone-treated, natural, preconditioned, age-verified and source-verified, and a good mineral program is also recommended.

If you don’t have any of these practices in place, consider it for next year’s selling season. When your 2012 calf crop drops, be proactive and look ahead to how you want to market those cattle. Larson has given several options to try and add value to your cattle herd.  end_mark

Tim Larson of Prewitt and Company, a cattle marketing service in Montana, says the following cattle will be well-sought-after during this fall’s run and into the future.

  • Naturally-raised
  • Non-hormone-treated
  • Age- and source-verified
  • Preconditioned
  • On a mineral program


TOP: Tim Larson of Prewitt and Co. in Sidney, Montana, expects the fall run will lead to good prices and premiums on quality program cattle. Photo courtesy of Prewitt and Co.