Ranchers question when is the best time to sell cattle

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Here in East Texas, cattlemen include your full time rancher to part time ranchers.

No matter the size of the herd, raisers are faced with the same dilemma: when is the best time to sell the calves.

Ranchers still in business are selling calves.

Most are the traditionally lightweight calf.

"I haven't obviously seen the Nacogdoches market today, but yesterday at Center a 350 pound calf brought $721 which is pretty good," said Jamie Sugg, AgriLife agent.

But according to Texas A&M East Texas ranchers could stand to earn more if they keep their calves longer, beef them up and then sell them.

The skyrocking cost of corn, run up by thinks like ethanol, is causing feed lots to change their ways.

"Feed lots would rather have a calf heavier coming in to the feed yards, so they're not having to feed that high dollar corn near as long," said Sugg.

Now the debate begins.

Nacogdoches county rancher Emmett Case thinks it's good advice if you have the winter pasture to keep from having to buy expensive hay and feed.

"Larger our calves are the more money you're going to get. Of course, if you can afford to keep them longer, 'til they get that age, you're a lot better off," said Case.

Angelina County rancher Harold Moore isn't in total agreement.

He likes the high prices calves are bringing and questions the risk in waiting to sell.

"In my opinion, I don't think it would be a thing to do to try to hold it, a calf, that will bring $700-$900 with anticipation of him bringing more and you putting feed in him everyday," said Moore.

Both men can agree last year and this year have presented a lot of challenges for ranchers.Livestock economics often boils down to personal choice.

Unfortunately, the price of beef at the sale arena rarely reflects what we pay at the grocery store.

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