Decatur Livestock Market
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In order to maximize the benefits of your weaning and preconditioning your calves, we will designate a portion of the first sale of each month to feature weaned calves.

Minimum requirements:
1.  Weaned at least 45 days.
2.  Delivered to DLM prior to 5 p.m. on the Saturday preceding the 1st sale of each month (ie, December 1 for the December 3 sale).  Cattle will be sold first in – first out.

Any vaccination program you follow will be announced as your cattle are presented (Buyers recommend vaccinations against respiratory disease.).

Whether you have 1 calf or 100, if they meet the minimum requirements they can be included in this featured segment of the sale – the more cattle offered the greater the buyers’ interest.

                                Click here to print off a copy of the weaned certification card that we use
                                to merchandise your cattle.

Local Livestock Markets - The most secure way to sell livestock at fair market value, true price discovery.

The recent default and bankruptcy of one of the largest livestock brokers is a testimony of the advantage of selling through livestock auction markets.  Over 700 livestock producers and several auction markets were not paid for cattle - in the amount of approximately $200 million.  Yet the producers who sold their cattle through an auction market were paid in full.
Livestock markets protect the seller by acting as the agent to transfer ownership from seller to buyer.  The auction market assumes the risk of non-payment.  The seller receives payment within 24 hours of sale, out of a bonded and regulated custodial account.
Paid in full.  Paid on time.  Merchandising your livestock to receive fair market value.  Not a bad return for cost of commission!
What is Considered to be a Weaned Calf?

Research data show that a minimum of 45 days is required to maximize benefits from a weaned calf.

In the early 90's, Texas A & M finished a research program for preconditioning calves. From their research the Texas Value Added program was developed under the trade name TexVac 45.  In addition to 45 days weaned time recommended nutrition and preventative vaccination protocol were defined.  This program has become the gold standard for the industry.

While buyers prefer such a comprehensive program, the most important issue is for a calf to be weaned at least 45 days.

To quote the owner of a large order buying and preconditioning company:  "We want a calf that is weaned 45 minutes or 45 days".  The premise is that anything less than 45 days, the calf is at some point of "breaking" aka getting sick.  It is more effective to avoid illness than to cure it.

As for desired vaccinations, the calf/yearling buyers are most concerned about respiratory disease so a protocol for IBR, PI3, BRSV and Pasteurella is recommended.

We have many consignors to tell us that their calves have had all the shots and are weaned.  Most of the time that translates to a blackleg shot and 2 weeks weaned - a little short of the target.  

Another factor in maximizing return on investment of preconditioning calves is quantity.  Quantity equates to visibility.  Most of our consignments are 2-5 head so it is hard for a buyer to put together a load of preconditioned calves.  To provide an opportunity for our consignors to benefit more from their extra effort we have designated the 1st sale of each month to feature weaned calves.  To merchandise your calves better we ask you to bring them in on the Saturday prior to the 1st Monday sale so we can sort them, compile an information handout for the buyers and give the calves time to regain shrinkage from being hauled to town.  We start the yearling portion of the sale with the weaned calves so the buyers have an opportunity to put together larger groups of conditioned cattle.  This is really the only feasible way to insure the opportunity for premiums on your conditioned calves if you consign less than a truck load lot.  Otherwise there may be 4 or 5 head intermixed with 100-200 calves and they become as one of many.

The results of the weaned calf sales have been encouraging.  Many buyers who retain ownership through the feedlots have found that there is added value on preconditioned calves and will pay a premium for them.  Order buyers have fewer complaints from their customers about sickness and will be more aggressive in bidding on preconditioned calves.  We see premiums paid for conditioned calves as compared to unweaned calves of equal quality.

One caution as you precondition your calves - Maintain a nutrition program that will promote growth without excess fat.  Fat, juicy calves will be discounted, ie the feedlot will not pay a $1 per pound when they can put weight on for $.50 per pound.

The cost of gain will be a challenge with high cost of hay and grain.  The relative cost of weaning your calves and following a recommended vaccination program in concert with merchandising them should provide a better return on your investment, ie, it costs the same to feed calves that will be discounted as it does to feed calves that can sell for a premium.

Managing Shrinkage on Cattle:

One of the hidden costs when selling cattle is shrinkage; weight lost in transit or going off of feed.

When contracting to sale cattle in the country it is standard practice to calculate a 2 or 3% shrink factor, ie weigh the cattle then reduce paying weight to compensate for weight lost in transit.  For a short haul the initial shrinkage may be recovered quickly but for each hour on a truck shrinkage increases beyond just loss of body waste and takes longer to recover.

Of course shrinkage on weaned cattle is less and their recovery is much quicker than for unweaned calves.

Weather condition also affects shrinkage with cold wet weather requiring energy for warmth instead of weight gain whereas extreme heat reduces appetite.  There are ways to recover this lost revenue.  We recommend bringing your cattle in a day or two before sale date so they will have time to settle in and regain what they lost enroute to the sale.  

Even with the recent extreme heat you can avoid the loss.  We had an opportunity to demonstrate this recently.  With permission from a consignor we weighed his calves upon arrival in order to compare arrival weight with their sale weight on Monday.  

Receiving weight = 50270#
Selling weight = 51335#
Temperature = 103-105 degrees
On the yard 2 days prior to the sale
Weight gain = 1065# @ $128/cwt average prices = $1365
Cavles weaned 30-40 days, average gain 19-23# each. 11 head of unweaned calves average gain 2# each.

In more moderate temperature the gains would be even more significant.
Thank you - Mgmt & DVM
Weaned Certifcation Form
Weaned Certifcation Form
If you would like to be added to our email list to receive
weekly market reports, advertising for early consignments for our regular sales,
as well as consignment details for our special sales,
please send an email to
with "Weekly Mailing" in the subject line.

We will also use this method to keep you informed of bad weather closings
and any other times we close throughout the year (July 4th and Christmas).
We will be closed July 3.

The July weaned calf segment will be Monday, July 10.

Have a safe and happy holiday!