All the data, indexes, numbers, abbreviations, pedigrees and other assorted references risk giving prospective buyers an information overload. When marketing cattle, the wise seller asks: “How can I provide the most valuable information to sell my genetics to the right buyer?”

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Freelance Writer
Jaclyn (Krymowski) De Candio is a freelance writer based in Ohio.

Sire marketing grows more competitive as the industry advances in the realms of genetic knowledge and data collection. Selling bulls, be it elite genetics or the commercial moneymakers, has a lot to do with presenting data that will show an individual off in his best possible light. Likewise, you want to properly match appropriate, valuable information with what the right potential buyer needs to know.

Butch Schuler of Schuler Red Angus comes from a family who has been raising seedstock animals since 1976 and composite seedstock since 1991. He says many commercial stud buyers want to identify with a seedstock program with relevant selection goals to their own operations.

“They realize they are not just purchasing a bull but the genetics that will determine the profitability of their subsequent calf crops and ultimately drive their herd’s future if retaining replacements,” he said. “Buyers want to know that their seedstock provider is using all the information available to design profitable and sustainable genetics and will stand behind their bull purchase if it is unable to deliver them. Whenever we sell a bull to a customer, we are ultimately trying to sell him his next one.”

The basics

To successfully sell anything, the first step is knowing your ideal buyer and what kind of investment would add profitable value to their operation. What will make a profitable investment in one region or market would not in another. You need to find which category your genetics fall into and which buyers fit that mold. Dr. Matt Spangler of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says a good place to start is by identifying breeding objectives.


“This ultimately leads producers to the listing of traits that impact their profitability,” he says. “From there, it is important to understand current differences between breeds so the breed(s) that best fit the objectives are used.”

Gabriel Connealy hosts two bull sales on his family’s seedstock ranch, Connealy Angus, in western Nebraska each year. Keeping up-to-date on the sire selection criteria of cattlemen is vital to their business. Their team publishes hand-picked expected progeny differences (EPDs) in their catalogs according to what is most relevant to their particular customer base along with the animals’ registration numbers so additional breed association details can be easily obtained.

“In our experience, there is no one-size-fits-all marketing scheme for selling bulls. Commercial cattlemen are as unique as the cattle they run. Many are looking for different characteristics in their bulls,” he says. “Generally, cattlemen understand their own environment better than an outsider does and knows what will or won’t work for their area.”

Additionally, the Connealys provide pedigrees of each animal for four generations, a recommendation regarding calving ease, a brief description of the bull, a brief description of both sire and dam, weaning and yearling ratios for both the individual and his mother, birthdate, actual scrotal size, frame score and a docility score on all the bulls in their catalogs.

Keeping up with relevant information

The most valuable information you can provide proves your bull’s value as a parent. Likewise, it is information familiar to the modern cattleman. This should include EPDs, indexes, breed ranks, pedigree information and other individual performance statistics of note. If you are investing in a little extra advertisement, knowing what the strengths and weaknesses are can help you know what to highlight.

“Today’s cattlemen want to be sure of the bull they’re buying – providing the most accurate information we can as sellers is crucial. That’s why we utilize genomic-enhanced [GE] EPDs,” Connealy says. “GE-EPDs give the buyer an added level of confidence in the purchase he is making, whether his main concern is calving ease, carcass quality or anything in between. Additionally, we collect data points as often as possible. These include ratios at birth, weaning and yearling, as well as ultrasound scans, scrotal measurements, et cetera.”

When is too much too much?

As a seller, it is your responsibility to provide as much useful information to potential buyers as possible. Specifically, you want to tell them why your animal is worth the investment. But the line to doing this is very fine; a catalog that is too busy and cluttered can appear intimidating rather than encouraging and helpful.

Part of being a savvy seller is showing the relevant facts with the statistics to explain why it matters. For example, phenotypes, such as actual birth weights, have little value in today’s world.

“Simply providing actual weights without context advertises a feed program, not genetic merit,” Connealy explains. “I am much more interested in how an individual performed relative to his contemporaries.”

Schuler notes in his experience, inconsequential details such as pelvic measurements, scurs and 1A or 1B classification also fall into this category.

“We strive to provide all the available EPDs, indices, breed ranks, pedigree and individual performance information so the producer can decide what information is relevant to his operation,” he says. “However, we put emphasis on economic indices and economically relevant traits such as stayability, direct and maternal calving ease, average daily gain [ADG] and carcass traits.”

Spangler reminds buyers and sellers that there is a difference between data and information. The data can be condensed into useful, published information thanks to EPDs and indexes.

“Decades of science have clearly shown that EPD, and corresponding economic selection indexes, are by far the best tools to use in selecting bulls,” he says. “I also see little value in the expository contained in footnotes, pictures, or really anything that does not strictly focus on the bull’s genetic potential as a parent. Sire selection does not need to be overwhelming – focus on the traits that match your breeding objective, use EPD indexes to choose bulls (if profit motivated), and work with seedstock suppliers you trust.”  end mark

PHOTO: When marketing cattle, the wise seller asks: “How can I provide the most valuable information to sell my genetics to the right buyer?” Photo by Paul Marchant.

Jaclyn Krymowski is a freelancer based in Ohio.