Ontario’s cattle producers have picked up public funding for a project to put the concept of the calf club to work on a larger scale.
The Ontario Cattlemen’s Association (OCA), backed by federal/provincial Growing Forward funding through the province’s not-for-profit Agricultural Management Institute (AMI), plans to expand the calf club idea for its members to “take advantage of a proven marketing approach.”
“While the concept of cow-calf clubs is not new, we’ve identified it as being an opportunity for Ontario cow-calf producers to embrace on a larger scale,” Paul Stiles, assistant manager for the Guelph-based OCA, said in a release Friday.
The OCA said its project “aims to establish clear steps for producers to take in order to increase their returns, while at the same time meeting the needs of Ontario feedlots and ultimately the consumer.”
That means helping build new calf clubs and grow existing ones, but also forming a “Progressive Beef Producers” group, on the model of the Progressive Dairy Operators, as a forum for calf club members to “exchange ideas and information,” OCA said.
The premise of a calf club involves members selling their calves at the same sale, on the same day. Feedlot operators would thus be able to source a larger number of calves with the same characteristics and health standards, as club members would commit to follow the same specific management protocols and would all vaccinate, dehorn, castrate and deworm their animals before the sale.
Grouping calves for sale this way has been found to result in premium prices for producers, the OCA said.
“Not only do we want to get more members into the clubs, we also want to attract more buyers who are willing to pay more for guaranteed healthy calves at Ontario sales,” Stiles said.
Sales data now shows the premiums paid for standardized groups of club calves can reach as high as 18 cents a pound, he said.
“By introducing their members to the calf club concept, (OCA is) also showcasing the benefits of group marketing initiatives,” AMI chairman Peter Vander Zaag of Alliston said in the release.
The Guelph-based AMI was set up in 2005 with federal/provincial funding to promote beneficial business management practices among Ontario farmers. The AMI operated as an arm of Ontario’s Agricultural Adaptation Council until 2009, then became an independent not-for-profit organization backed by Growing Forward.