Kellie Curry Raper, Oklahoma State University Livestock Marketing Specialist
Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Livestock Marketing Specialist
Oklahoma Quality Beef Network producers in fall 2022 enjoyed the second highest average premiums in program history. OQBN is a third-party certified VAC-45 preconditioning program offered through Oklahoma Cooperative Extension. Extension Specialists guide producers through the calf health management protocol to qualify for certification and eligibility to market cattle through OQBN. OQBN premiums are measured as the weighted average premium for OQBN VAC-45 calves relative to non-preconditioned calves at the same sale. The fall 2022 overall average premium across locations and weights was $18.67/cwt, the highest since 2014.
When we break that premium down across steers and heifers, steers averaged premiums of $18.27/cwt while heifers topped that at $19.12/cwt. Looking across weight classes, lighter weights tend to bring higher per cwt premiums. The bulk of OQBN lots are marketed as 4 weights to 6 weights. Across those weights, the calculated average premium per head for steers ranged from $92.25 to $114.84 and from $84.24 to $115.78 for heifers.
The 2022 fall marketing season included 9 fall sales across 6 Oklahoma livestock markets. Total fall enrollment included 2,784 head and 63 producers, with 1,633 head marketed through OQBN VAC-45 certified sales. The numbers are not too surprising, given that drought forced early weaning and marketing for many producers in the state. Overall, the data used to calculate 2022 premiums includes 10,583 head marketed in 1,252 lots. That data includes 232 OQBN lots. As expected, sales where more OQBN calves or other preconditioned calves were present tended to have higher premiums for those calves, as those sales usually attract a larger number of buyers to compete for preconditioned calves.
Markets never make guarantees and preconditioning is not free. That said, past research indicates that 80% of the time, certified preconditioning with OQBN nets positive returns. OQBN has no minimum requirement on number of head enrolled, so the program is accessible to all producers, large and small. More information about the OQBN protocol, past market premiums, upcoming marketing opportunities, program enrollment and Extension educator contact information can be found at https://extension.okstate.edu/programs/oklahoma-quality-beef-network/.