Ten Missouri cow-calf producers decided a decade ago they wanted to learn more about how to add value to their cattle by finding out how their calves performed beyond the farmgate. Through a handshake agreement, the producers created NEMO Premier Beef Marketers. Today, they report, returns from retained ownership are greater than they would be selling calves at the sale barn.

“We wondered whether retained ownership was a smart option,” says Imogene Latimer, veterinarian and beef producer, who helped organize the group with the help of the University of Missouri Extension Beef Team. “We’ve only lost money per head in one year out of 11 on both steers and heifers. Over the years, our value-added profit per head has averaged $37.65.”

Producers in the group use similar genetics and vaccination schedules and are enrolled in age- and source-verification programs. On commingling day, calves are weighed, sorted, frame-scored and tagged. The group has marketed more than 5,000 cattle, averaging more than 400 head per year.

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Have you teamed up with any value-added programs to market your calves? Do you retain ownership or sell right after weaning? What's your secret to success?