Decatur County Feed Yard is a calf weaning and feeding operation — a place to finish your cattle for more beef and better profits.
But Decatur is more than that. Thanks to our electronic cattle management system, it’s a place for ranchers to improve profitability long-term and gain more control over their cattle’s performance.
Once you decide to feed with Decatur, here’s how our process works:
- Process and Track
- Sort Strategically
- Manage Efficiently
- Market Individually
- Analyze Data
- Adjust Genetics
- Measure Success
When your cattle arrive at Decatur County Feed Yard, we process them within 24 hours to minimize stress. During this time, we attach an electronic ear tag to identify and track each animal, cross-referencing the number with your ranch ID tag. This is how all data gets matched to the correct animal and documented automatically in our system, from the moment they arrive until the moment they are sold.
Your arrival report will include:
- Ranch ID
- Individual processing weight
- Individual backfat measurement
- Individual hip height
- Lot value sheet
- Lot break-even projection
We measure each animal individually using ultrasound, video imaging, and electronic scales for:
- Frame score/body type
- Projected feed efficiency (as determined by the system’s measurements)
Using these measurements (which are taken at least twice to ensure accuracy), our computerized system is able to predict the target sale date for each animal. We typically sort your herd into a minimum of four market groups based on these optimum sale dates. This is a level of sorting that you won’t find at a traditional feed yard.
Once our system sorts the animals, we manage them according to their optimum feed efficiency and finish dates. This individual management minimizes overhead costs to you by eliminating unnecessary days of feeding, avoiding extra maintenance costs, and keeping animals from being overfed or underfed. And it helps each animal efficiently reach its peak shape for sale.
We sell your cattle in market groups once they reach their target sale dates. They aren’t sold for a flat rate. Each animal is sold individually to our packer according to our value-based grid. The result is the maximum return on each animal, including age and source premiums. You’ll get paid for the value of your beef, not the commodity price set by the market. Cattle are shipped in two-week intervals, with a typical herd being sold over a period of 60 days.
Once all the animals in your herd have been sold, you receive your individual animal closeout, which amounts to a report card on each animal. The data reflects the merit of each animal, including the dollar value, feed efficiency, quality grade, and more, listed from highest to lowest net return. You’ll see exactly what characteristics, costs, and gains were attributed to every animal, so you’ll be able to understand why certain animals were more profitable than others. We like to say that we look under the hide to see what you truly have in each head of cattle.
Your lot closeout shows how your herd fared overall. You also have access to anonymous comparative data from all participating ranchers at Decatur.
After you receive your data, you work with Decatur managers to go over the wealth of data from your closeout reports. You’ll compare cattle withinyour herd, and compare your cattle to other herds. Using your objective, individual carcass data, we can help you isolate which genetics are giving you the most for your money (and which are costing you). That knowledge can help you make more informed, more profitable breeding decisions for the future. You can evaluate every animal’s performance, begin genetic improvement, and have more control over your future revenues.
The data you receive gets more valuable with each herd you feed through Decatur. Your first herd with Decatur establishes a baseline — something you can measure all future herds against. After that, you’ll be able to compare data from herd to herd. Patterns will begin to emerge, and you’ll be able to make increasingly strategic choices based on proof of what works and what doesn’t.
When you’re always measuring your animal performance and returns, you become skilled at scrutinizing and adjusting your genetics for the best results. This is how you maintain profitability long-term.