Video auctions are the new standard for cattle marketing. They operate much like a traditional auction taking place in a sale barn, but have a much larger pool of potential buyers. Thus, sale prices observed in video auctions are often more indicative of national prices than are local cash sale prices. This means we can learn what cattle markets really want by studying video auction prices.

In the course of our research, we used data from video auctions of calves. Western Video Market provided us anonymous information from 1,979 lots of cattle with average weights in the 500- to 625-lb. range sold in video auctions from 1997-2003. This weight range was used to focus on the price effects of the length of time since calves were weaned.

The number of lots sold per year increased from 153 in 1998 to 397 in 2003. Average lot size increased from 130 head during 1997 to 146 head in 2003. The cattle were sold from ranches across the western U.S.

The new analysis had more data available and used a complex statistical process to get a more current picture of the market value of preconditioning and other pricing factors.