Livestock Marketing Tools and Frequently Used Terms

All this week on Table Talk we are covering the theme of Livestock Marketing.

In this series we are focusing on:

  1. Am I a marketer or seller of livestock?
  2. What are my selling options for livestock?
  3. Livestock Marketing Tools and Frequently Used Terms

In our previous posts, we have introduced the concept of livestock marketing and walked through the different options for selling stock.

MLA state that “Meeting market specifications will help producers to maximise returns and gain a reputation as a reliable supplier of livestock. Critical variables and decisions regarding the cost effective selling method vary between locations and species”(Selling Options, Meat and Livestock Australia). So, in this final post, we bring to you a number of tools that may assist you in your marketing decision and in meeting market specifications.

Online Livestock Marketing Tools

BeefSpecs – A tool to assist in meeting market specifications

Market Focused Lamb and Sheepmeat Production

  • Making More from Sheep
  • Module 3 from Making More from Sheep looks at marketing sheepmeat and lambs.
  • This module is designed to assist sheep producers to deliver quality assured lamb and sheepmeat to target market specifications.

Cattle Marketing Ready Reckoner

  • FutureBeef
  • Compare different selling options including saleyards, abattoir and paddock sales.

Comparing lamb marketing methods

Ag Commodity Prices

  • Grain and Graze 3
  • Useful online tool for producers in southern and western Australia to use in viewing historical trends for common ag commodities.
  • Includes feeder steers, trade steers, japan ox, cows, trade lambs, heavy lambs, mutton, live sheep, EYCI, ESTLI.

Converting hot standard

  • Agriculture Victoria – Bruce Knee
  • Did you know HSCW was introduced as a national standard in 1987?

Converting liveweight prices

  • Table to assist producers to convert cattle in cents/kg liveweight to cents/kg hot standard carcase weight from Agriculture Victoria.

MLA Market Reports & Prices

Mecardo Market analysis

We also have heard amazing things about The KLR School for all things livestock marketing! My partner Hugh and I will attend a course of theirs in 2019 – will we see you there?

Frequently Used Terms

To finish off the week we have brought together some frequently used terms and acronyms and livestock marketing. This list is courtesy of Cattle and beef market study — Interim report by the ACCC and Meat and Livestock Australia:

  • Abattoir: A plant or factory where cattle are slaughtered for food (also known as a processing plant, slaughterhouse, or meatworks).
  • Agent (livestock agent): Acts as an agent for the producer/vendor to secure a sale and earns commissions. Agents are active in a variety of sales channels (e.g. direct sales including over the hooks), not just at auctions.
  • AUS-MEAT: Industry organisation which manages a number of industry product standards and also accredits and audits meat processing plants.
  • Carcase weight: Weight of the carcase after slaughter, with standard trim and offal removed. Used to determine payment based on grids for over the hooks sales.
  • cwt price:  Carcase weight price – the price of a live animal expressed in carcase weight (see ‘carcase weight’) or the price of animal’s carcase (per kilogram). (See ‘liveweight price’).
  • Basis: The difference between the price on the physical market and the futures price.
  • Co-products (also known as by-products): Products other than meat sourced from a carcase, including hide, offal, foetal blood products (used in medical research and pharmaceutical industries), gall stones and fat.
  • Cold boning (quality cuts): A form of beef processing which involves chilling the carcase after slaughter, allowing the meat to ‘set’ before the carcase is processed into certain cuts. This process allows for high quality cuts of beef, in contrast to hot boning.
  • Commission buyer: Acts on behalf of a third party to procure cattle. Major acquirers of cattle generally employ their own ‘corporate’ salaried buyers and rarely use commission buyers.
  • ¢/kg:  Cents per kilogram. Units which cattle are sold in at a physical prime market.
  • Direct sale:  The sale of cattle on-farm, direct to a lotfeeder, processor, backgrounder or restocker, where there has been no intermediary party or process.
  • Dollars per head ($/hd): A pricing method. Cattle ready for slaughter are generally priced according to weight, and not dollars per head.
  • Dressed:  The removal of an animal’s head, feet, hide and internal organs during processing. The carcase is now ready for further processing, which will be dependant on its market destination.
  • Dressing percentage: The percentage of an animal’s liveweight that is its carcase weight. Used to estimate a live animal’s carcase weight from its liveweight: carcase weight / final liveweight x 100.
  • Eastern Young Cattle Indicator: The indicator is a seven-day rolling average produced daily by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service. The EYCI includes vealer and yearling heifers and steers, 200kg+ liveweight from saleyards in NSW, QLD and VIC. The results include cattle purchased for slaughter, restocking or lotfeeding and are expressed in cents per kilogram.
  • Fat score:  The measure of fat cover across an animal’s ribs and rump. Ranging from 1 (very lean) to 6 (very fat).
  • Feeder cattle: Cattle which are suitable to be placed into a feedlot to be fattened on a high protein grain-based diet to reach market weight.
  • Feedlot: Farms where cattle are fed a high protein grain-based diet to reach market weight.
  • Finished: Cattle that have reached market specifications and are ready for slaughter/processing.
  • Good till cancelled (GTC) order: An order that is held by the broker on behalf of the client until it is filled or cancelled.
  • Hot boning (low quality meat): A form of beef processing which involves removing the bones from the beef carcase shortly after slaughter without refrigeration. The beef is then used to produce mincemeat or in the manufacture of processed food.
  • Grading: Process by which processors assess quality aspects of cattle carcasses. Involves a general assessment of the carcase, by a trained assessor, who classifies the carcase based on qualities such as fat depth and colour, muscle shape and size, and any detrimental characteristics such as injury or brushing.
  • Grassfed: Cattle which have been fed exclusively on pasture to reach market weight.
  • Grainfed: Cattle which have been fed a high protein grain-based diet on a feedlot to reach market weight. Over the hooks (OTH): Where cattle are sold direct to the processing plant and the producer is paid based on a price grid. The weight of the processed carcase along with the carcase grade is used to determine price.
  • Heavy mutton: Sheep weighing over 24kg cwt.
  • Heavy export: Lambs weighing over 26kg.
  • Heavy trade: Lambs weighing between 20–22kg cwt, also known as a supermarket lamb.
  • Heifer:  A female bovine that has not produced a calf and is under 42 months of age.
  • HSCW: Hot standard carcase weight – used to describe the weight of an animal, particularly when the animal is sold over the hooks.
  • Over the hooks (OTH): Where cattle are sold direct to the processing plant and the producer is paid based on a price grid. The weight of the processed carcase along with the carcase grade is used to determine price.
  • Liveweight (‘over the scales’) (pre and post-sale weighing): Where cattle are sold based on their live weight of the cattle, usually in cents per kilogram. Also referred to as ‘over the scales’. Pre-sale weighing is favoured by producers, whilst post-sale weighing is generally favoured by buyers (although some processors say prices are not affected by the method).
  • MSA: Meat Standards Australia – a meat grading system designed in Australia. Used to describe the guaranteed eating quality of Australian beef.
  • Paddock sales: Cattle are inspected on the vendor’s property by the buyer and are sold straight out of the paddock. Price is generally negotiated on a dollars per head ($/hd) or cents per kilogram liveweight (c/kg) basis.
  • Prime cattle (fat or slaughter cattle): Cattle which are ready for slaughter. Saleyards tend to have a ‘prime’ cattle sale and a ‘store’ cattle sale. Store cattle are not ready for slaughter.
  • Saleyard: A physical auction market where buyers and sellers trade livestock. There are separate sales for store and prime cattle.
  • Standard carcase trim (‘trim’): Trimming refers to the removal of certain fat and other layers from a carcase, prior to it being weighed and graded. AUS-MEAT Limited specifies standard requirements for trim.
  • Store cattle: Cattle suitable for breeding or finishing, but bot for slaughtering.
  • Transport: For saleyard sales, the producer pays the cost of transport to the saleyard and the buyer bears the cost from the saleyard. For OTH or direct sales, the producer pays the cost of transport to the processing plant.


Previous posts:

Leave a Reply