Marketing calves in groups, rather than as individuals, can help command a higher price at the sale barn. That’s the finding of research by Tom Troxel of the University of Arkansas.

Troxel evaluated factors that affected sale price of Arkansas beef calves as they were marketed in fifteen Arkansas livestock auction markets in 2005. He reported on data from over 100,000 head of calves sold in 52,401 lots. Several interesting price differences were noted.

Calves selling as groups of six head or more brought $122.61/hundredweight, while calves selling as singles sold for $117.26/hundredweight. This indicates producing uniform groups of calves that are marketed together has added value.

Healthy appearing calves of unknown “processing” brought $118.21, which was more than calves with “dead” hair ($105.55), stale-looking calves ($100.01), sick calves ($80.22), bad eyes ($104.39) or lame ($84.74) calves. However, if the calves were announced as “preconditioned”, they sold for a higher price ($122.36) compared to the healthy unknown ($118.21) calves.

Polled calves still sell for more than horned calves by $3.70 per hundredweight and the difference between steers and bulls was $6.27 per hundredweight.

Very full or “tanked” calves were discounted about $10 to $17 per hundredweight compared to calves that appeared to have normal shrink.

Much of this data is consistent with information collected by eastern Oklahoma extension educators in 1997 and again in 1999 from fourteen Oklahoma auction markets. These researchers conclude that the bottom line is: properly managed, process-verified, calves that are sold in group lots will bring home the most dollars.