The art of successfully marketing feeder cattle is a competition to meet the buyer’s requirements for the right product, at the right time at the right place. The advantage goes to those sellers who know these requirements in advance and can produce to meet these specific attributes. Cattle that are offside with what buyers are seeking tend to attract large discounts.
Like the Olympics, selling feeder cattle will have winners who through a combination of skill, knowledge and effort take home the rewards of good prices and future opportunities. As in the Olympics, not everyone can be a winner in selling feeder cattle. The competition is to meet buyer requirements and avoid leftover demand and discounts.
The art of producing what the market wants is challenging. Critical decisions include picking the herd sire and deciding on what date he will be turned out with the cows. In this decision sellers have committed to a date with the processor at some point in the future. Holding cattle back/ saving feed/ “selling green” result in cattle that not only miss their “best by” date, but more importantly add extra costs for future owners.
As in the Olympics, the game of marketing feeder cattle can be won on presentation. The right cattle can be discounted when sellers fail to provide the information that allows buyers to clearly see that the cattle can meet their criteria. To realize the rewards of lower discounts, sellers must take steps to ensure buyers have the information to clearly see that the cattle have the attributes to create value in their particular production/ marketing processes.
Like Olympic athletes, the marketers of feeder cattle are continually making adjustments to gain an advantage in the competition for fewer discounts. Occasionally some technological advance is adopted by both athletes and cattle sellers hoping to improve their ability to compete.
Don’t just show pictures
Internet selling has brought new opportunities for sellers to not only show their product to the world but also to explain in detail the production and value attributes to prospective buyers. However the full benefits of Internet selling are not always being realized by cattle marketers. There are feeder cattle sellers who allow buyers to judge their cattle strictly by the pictures that are uploaded to the Internet.
The breakout opportunity in Internet selling of feeder cattle can be in fully describing their value attributes. Casual observations indicate that eight in 10 sellers fail to list these important value points. They fail to provide the right information that can shape a buyer’s assessment of how the
Heavy use of nitrogen fertilizers in China since the 1980s has resulted in severe acidification of its soil and some cropland in the south of the country can no longer be used, a Chinese expert said.
“In the south, heavy use of fertilizers has pushed the pH to 3 or 4 in some places. Maize, tobacco and tea cannot be grown. This is a long-term effect,” said Zhang Fusuo, a professor on plant nutrition at China Agricultural University in Beijing.
Acidity is measured by pH, which ranges from 0 (strongly acidic) to 14 (strongly alkaline). Most plants grow best in neutral soil with pH from 6 to 8.
“PH that is under 5 is very serious, under 4 a lot of trees cannot grow,” Zhang told Reuters by telephone, adding that the problem was serious in the southern province of Hunan.
Soil acidification occurs naturally from factors such as acid rain, but this problem has worsened with the overuse of nitrogen fertilizers.
China’s grain production and nitrogen fertilizer use hit 502 million tonnes and 32.6 million tonnes in 2007, up 54 per cent and 191 per cent compared to 1981, according to Zhang and his colleagues, who published their findings in the journal Science.
They examined two soil surveys in the 1980s and 2000s and found that soil throughout the country had become more acidic since farmers started using cheap nitrogen fertilizers like urea and ammonium bicarbonate in the 1980s.
“The average pH in all of China has decreased by 0.5 unit in the last 20 years. Left to nature, a single unit change needs hundreds of years or even over 1,000 years, but we have got this change now due to fertilizer overuse,” Zhang said.
Soil acidification can be reversed quickly with lime, but that is an expensive and labour-intensive process that farmers in China are reluctant to undertake.
“The government doesn’t subsidize but we hope that through our work the government can help. However, lime is only the third option,” Zhang said.
“The first option is to reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizers, the second is return straw, or crop residuals to the land to reduce acidity,” Zhang said.
“Now burning (of residuals) is still used because returning it is labour, machinery intensive. The government should subsidize machinery costs.”