There are many different ways to market Corriente Cattle, but as with any business it must start with a plan. I have listed tips that I hope will help new, and maybe even some established, Corriente breeders to be more successful raising and marketing their cattle.
First, there are many variables in different areas of the country such as when is the best time to calve, availability of forage, cost effectiveness of supplemental feed, etc. However, as with any business, there are several things we need to look into. They are product (Corrientes), location, target customer, promotion and price.
Within every breed of cattle there are people whose main goal is to produce quantity rather than quality. Then there are those who prefer to produce quality rather than quantity. I, like many Corriente breeders that I have talked to, started breeding Corriente Cattle to raise my own roping cattle. I was fortunate enough to purchase some really good NACA heifers and cows to start my herd.
As I continued growing and culling my herd I noticed some cattle’s offspring that grew slower or had slower horn growth. I realized that raising cattle that were months behind the other cattle being ready to rope was costing me money, or at least not making as much money. So these were the first cattle that were culled. Below are some other tips, I’ve acquired through the years, that I hope are helpful:
- Steers should be “Ready to Rope” somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 – 15 months of age (Horns past the end of their ears 2 – 3 inches, weighing close to 400 lbs). Waiting until a bull calf is close to 12 months old before he is castrated helps them develop their horns and body quicker. This also allows you time to get a good idea if he is a potential herd bull. In most parts of the U.S., spring is when ropers and stock contractors are looking for team roping stock to purchase. In the extreme southern parts of the U.S., we begin calving in late fall due to the mild winters. This enables us to begin marketing our team roping steers as “Ready to Rope” in late winter and early spring. This is ideal because it puts our steers in that 13 – 15 month range just in time for team roping and rodeo seasons. Areas further north calve later due to the colder climate and availability of forage. Some breeders market their steers as “potentials or prospects” (30 – 90 days away from being “Ready to Rope”). This year in late February however, “Ready to Rope” #1 Corriente steers were bringing $850 – $900 per head. During that same time period, “potentials” were bringing $700 – $800 (Note this article uses regional prices for a specific period for examples.)
- Heifers should all be “Ready to Rope” around 18 months of age if they are grown properly. In the last couple of years, good Corriente heifers have been a hot commodity. This year #1 Corriente heifers “Ready to Rope” have ranged from $900 – $1400 depending on quality, bloodlines, and condition. Potential and prospect heifers (30 – 90 days away from being “Ready to Rope”) have ranged from $750 – $900 per head.
- As a Corriente breeder, you must make a determination: do you have sufficient pasture or ability to grow your roping cattle to market as “Ready to Rope”or should you sell them at an earlier date. With the difference in the price of “Ready to Rope” cattle and potentials, most people normally raise their cattle until they are “Ready to Rope” to maximize their returns.
- Seed stock producers of Corriente Cattle that are successful over long periods of time stringently select and cull their herds for quality, performance (roping arena and pasture), and continually try to improve their cattle. Buy from reputable breeders that stand behind their cattle and buy the best cattle you can afford. This will drastically reduce the amount of culling and selecting that you will have to do, and in the end, help you become successful years earlier as a Corriente breeder. Remembering the old saying, “Cheap cattle ain’t good, and good cattle ain’t cheap” will save you a lot of headaches and heart breaks, not to mention money.
- Adios and God Bless,
- Douglas Dale
- President Eastern Corriente Association, NACA Lifetime member #5370, NACA Board Member