BEEF editors are excited about the magazine's latest venture into better serving the stocker/backgrounder segment of the U.S. beef industry. In cooperation with 12 land-grant universities, BEEF magazine is conducting the first-of-its-kind National Stocker Survey.

The results from the survey will be used by universities, industry leaders and allied industry to guide their activities and investments in programs, products and research focused on the needs and concerns of stockers and backgrounders, says Dale Blasi, the Kansas State University (KSU) stocker specialist who is coordinating the effort with other universities.

The forgotten segment

Though a majority of fed cattle spend some portion of their post-weaning, pre-feedlot lives in a growing or straightening-out program, such a survey of stocker operators and backgrounders has never been conducted before. The best information available on these segments has been estimates based on cow-calf and feedlot survey information assembled by the National Animal Health Monitoring Service. But the most recent of those occurred in 1997-1999.

The aim of this national survey is to benchmark and characterize the management practices and challenges of stockers and backgrounders. This survey is particularly timely because the stocker and backgrounding segments, which have always been critical to the overall success of the beef industry, are even more so today in light of the structural changes brought about by higher grain prices and input costs.

“Consequently, the information provided by this survey, at this point in history, is essential to characterize management practices and identify opportunity on a national basis,” Blasi says. “The time backgrounders and stockers invest in completing this survey is truly an investment in their future. Information provided by this survey will help all of us charged with serving the stocker and backgrounding industries serve them more effectively.”

Strictly confidential

All the information will be held in strict confidence, and will be used only to aggregate survey-response data. Thus, no one needs to worry about the magazine or universities using it to develop mailing lists or prospect lists of some kind.

The survey was mailed in mid-October. Though the list is extensive, weighted by estimates of stocker-cattle populations by state, not everyone will receive a survey. If you don't, please click on the survey link at to provide information online.

Among the land-grant universities providing input for the National Stocker Survey are: the Universities of Florida, Missouri and Nevada; and Auburn, Iowa State, Kansas State, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, South Dakota State, Texas A&M and Western Kentucky Universities.

The National Stocker Survey is BEEF magazine's latest effort to better serve the stocker/backgrounder segment. Our targeted effort began a few years back with regular, dedicated coverage of the stocker segment in BEEF magazine and a unique partnership with KSU in the Web site. BEEF Stocker Trends, a free, 26 issues/year electronic newsletter aimed at providing management and production information and news for the stocker segment, debuted in fall 2003.

I hope you'll help us in this important latest project.