Nate Frederickson
Nate Frederickson

By Kindra Gordon

Another bull sale season is about to wrap up. From the auction block, Belle Fourche, South Dakota-based livestock auctioneer Seth Weishaar has witnessed the seedstock marketing business for more than two decades. So what’s the secret to those seedstock operations that stand out? Weishaar says, “People who take care of their customers stay in business.”

Weishaar acknowledges that in the seedstock industry, “There is more competition for business today.” As a result, he has seen many seedstock breeders step up to offer more service and quality to their customers. “Some breeders are buying back customer’s calves or helping them find a market for them. The guarantees of standing behind the seedstock cattle being sold have gotten stronger. And, more seedstock breeders are visiting their customers and building relationships,” he notes.

There’s also been advancement in genetics, Weishaar notes. He believes there’s more use of AI and top-quality genetics, and shares, “Fifteen years ago you hardly saw a 600-lb. calf in October. Now, that’s common and often without growth implants and without increasing cow size beyond 1,200 or 1,300 pounds.”

He adds, “About the time you say a record can’t be broken, someone does. So who knows in the future with improved genetics, we might be seeing more 700-lb. calves in October.”

Producer’s View

“Work your tail off and take care of your customer.” That’s the advice Spearfish, S.D. Hereford breeder Nate Frederickson offers to others seeking success – and longevity – in the seedstock business.

Nate, along with his wife, Jayna, two young sons, Teegan and Tiernan, and his parents, Mark and Mary Kay, run over 500 cows, with the herd comprised of registered Hereford and Angus as well as commercial cows, which are used in their embryo transfer (ET) program.

Today, Frederickson Ranch markets bulls through a private limited liability company called Pyramid Beef, which was established in 2009 as a marketing outlet for the ranch’s bulls and commercial females. Pyramid Beef partners with Belle Fourche, S.D. cattleman Jason McLennan and markets 150 bulls a year through an annual production sale.

In working to grow their seedstock business, Nate says he has recognized marketing efforts are key. He notes, “Raising quality seedstock cattle is only part of the equation. Marketing and direct customer relationships are what contribute to success.”

Foundational to their seedstock operation have been utilizing A.I. and embryo transfer to produce top quality genetics; utilizing a complete herd health program to ensure animal health; and offering an unconditional guarantee as well as an injury guarantee on bulls sold. Their Pyramid Beef marketing efforts include a detailed sale catalog along with online video footage of each animal in the sale, Facebook presence, and online bidding on sale day via The Livestock Link. They also deliver bulls free of charge within 300 miles, and offer a nominal discount to those who haul their own bulls home on sale day.

Nate also strives to build one-on-one relationships with customers and often contacts them a few times throughout the year. “We try to visit their place, see their cowherd, and link them with potential calf buyers when we can,” explains Nate.

Weishaar concurs that time with customers throughout the year is key. Regarding marketing, he sees social media and Internet campaigns being integrated with print and radio ads, but concludes, “A one-on-one relationship with customers is still stronger than any of those tools.”

Also of note, Weishaar says he is also encouraged by the influx of more young people coming into beef production either as seedstock or commercial producers.