SALEM, Ohio — A cattle marketing project in the works for some time is finally a reality for eastern Ohio producers.
So far, 22 producers have signed up for the new Farm Fresh Feeders from Eastern Ohio project, a joint effort between the Tri-County Feeder Calf Association and OSU Extension in Harrison, Jefferson and Carroll counties.
All told, those 22 producers will offer more than 1,000 head of feeder calves for sale and bring home a premium for doing it.
The new marketing program replaces the Tri-County Graded Feeder Cattle Sales at Scio, a 40-year-old tradition for growers in the three counties. The sale was discontinued this year.
Extension’s Mike Hogan said ongoing challenges at the Scio sale barn required the association to explore other marketing opportunities for local feeder cattle producers.
The association’s board of directors visited potential buyers from Crawford County, Ohio, to see how cattle feeders may want to stock their feedlots. The idea of buying as few or as many as needed at a time was attractive and the program was born, Hogan said.
“A lot of times, small feeders don’t want a whole potbelly load, but don’t know where to find smaller quantities of quality animals,” he said.
“When we talked to them, they said they wanted to come visit the area farms and see what we had,” he said.
During the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association Roundup in Crawford County, the eastern Ohio group showed videos of the cattle they’d have for sale to attract even more business.
The video is a key concept to the program, organizers found, and it will be posted soon on the group’s Web site at http://harrison.osu.edu/agriculture-natural-resources/farm-fresh-feeders.
Hogan said the group is pleased to have such a strong start, and that the 1,000 head already signed up for the program “are way more than we thought we would have.”
“The whole idea here is to make connections. And it’s not just a sales program, it’s a complete marketing tool.”
“We produce some of the finest feeder cattle in Ohio right here, but we need to do a better job of marketing and adding value to our product.”
The project puts sellers’ animals front and center for buyers without the hassle that sometimes comes with traditional sales methods like sale barns and livestock buyers, according to Hogan.
Hogan said cattle sold through the new program will go directly from their home farm to their new feedlot, which reduces the need to commingle animals, worry about shrink and health issues and figure in the hassle of transportation.
The Farm Fresh Feeders program includes a printed and online guide to participating producers who are offering anywhere from six to 200 head apiece.
Each farm’s listing includes how many head they have for sale, when they’re available, breed, color, weight range, and whether they’re preconditioned.
Hogan said the program also allows for custom preconditioning agreements to make sure feeders get animals to their exact specifications.
“It’s beneficial to both the buyer and the seller,” Hogan said. “We’re not trying to get rid of sale barns, but any time we can direct market to buyers, the better.”
The program is still offering signups for interested sellers, who will be listed on the program’s Web site.
In addition, producers offering cattle for sale in the buyers guide will hold a three-county open house at their farms Oct. 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Potential buyers are welcomed on each farm that day to see the herds and discuss options with farmers.
Maps showing the locations of the farms participating in the open house will be posted on the Web site later this month.
The guide is available free of charge by calling the Carroll County Office of OSU Extension at 330-627-4310 or online at http://harrison.osu.edu/agriculture-natural-resources/farm-fresh-feeders/.