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Steve Suther, Industry Information Director, Certified Angus Beef LLC at

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August 7, 2009

Demand grows for Angus calves


Calf prices have been up and down, but the Angus advantage keeps growing, even while supplies of Angus calves increased as a share of all cattle. That’s according to nine years of data in the Pfizer Animal Health-supported analysis of Superior Livestock video auction sales. (See also “Black bonus” for a detailed look at these values in the Northern Plains.)

Most of the calves sold on the video include data on breed type, which has always had an effect on sale price. Starting in this decade, data analysis began to break out and quantify those variables.

From 2000 through 2008, data on more than 3.3 million head in 27,472 lots show an upward trend line in the relative added value of calves that are primarily Angus, the top-value category each year.

Strict guidelines classified cattle based on seller description into one of five categories: mixed English or English crosses, English-Continental crosses, primarily Angus, black or black-whitefaced, and cattle with “ear.”

Mostly black English calves with less than a 90% share of black individuals only qualified as English/English crosses. Lots of black or black-whitefaced calves had to be at least 90% black hided, and primarily Angus calves had to be described as at least 90% Angus by the seller. Brangus calves that were 90% or more black were not included in the analyses.

Using that Brahman-influence “eared” category as a base, the study showed a range of premiums for all other types of calves from 2000 to 2008 (Figure 1). “Last year, the Angus bonus reached its highest on record, at $7.64 per hundredweight (cwt.),” notes Mark McCully, Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) assistant vice president for supply. The spread has ranged from a low of $4.60 in 2001 (see Figure 2).

The value of English-Continental crosses relative to primarily Angus remained fairly steady over time at a $2.50/cwt. to $2.70/cwt. discount. However, the volume share of Continental crosses faded from about half of the mix in 2000 to 32% in recent years. Meanwhile, the share of primarily Angus combined with black and black-whitefaced calves climbed from 16.6% in 2000 to 42.6% last year, McCully points out.

Figure 1:

Figure 2: