Beef Improvement Federation Research Symposium and Convention
Beef Improvement Federation Research Symposium and Convention

U.S. Feeder-Cattle Exports Significantly Influenced by Demand for Proven Genetics

Clayton explains the opportunities for feeder-cattle exports driven by genetic demands.

“The power of the pedigree is what drives the interest in U.S. demand,” said Tony Clayton, Clayton Agri-Marketing Inc. president. Clayton gave his presentation titled “U.S. Genetic Exports: Where Are They Going and How Are They Doing?” during the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Symposium June 3 in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Clayton explained the impact of exporting U.S. feeder cattle to open new marketing opportunities that increase profitability and particular obstacles producers face when exporting feeder cattle.

Drivers of U.S. cattle export demand
The export market is driven by population growth, urbanization and expanding economies, Clayton noted. The main driver is population growth and people drive the demand for ag products. The current demand is protein, meat and milk.

Clayton said this increased demand has opened the market for the genetics produced in the United States. U.S. genetics are a value-added product; thus, international producers want to adopt U.S. genetic systems. The years U.S. producers and breed associations have spent performance testing and developing expected progeny differences (EPDs) and genomics, he noted, have producers around the world looking to the United States as a leader in production of all species. Pedigrees of U.S.-produced cattle have immense power to continuously strengthen the demand and export market.

Tony Clayton

“When I go to a new country, I would plan for it to take three years before I make a sale,” Tony Clayton, president of Clayton Agri-Marketing Inc., cautioned BIF attendees. “This business requires patience.” [Photo courtesy BIF]

“I explain to a lot of our clients that buying genetics with high genomics and EPDs is like buying a car,” Clayton said. “If you want the sunroof, it costs money. If you want the aluminum wheels, they cost money. We have a lot of misinformation out there and we work with clients to educate them on our genetic systems.”

Know your cattle, have a marketing plan
Developing a market to export your cattle requires intense promotion, a large supply of cattle, available financing, following government regulations, understanding logistics and being able to manage risks. You must know your limitations, he explained. What can you supply, deliver, finance and guarantee? Know your products, customers and suppliers. Producers must implement animal identification systems and an animal welfare program to increase prices of their cattle.

“When I go to a new country, I would plan for it to take three years before I make a sale,” Clayton cautioned. “This business requires patience.”

U.S. feeder cattle exports
The export of U.S. feeder cattle is influenced by the demand from Asia and the Middle East for protein, Clayton explained. China continues to import cattle from the southern hemisphere, taking a large supply of the world market to Indonesia, Egypt and Israel. However, there are many obstacles for feeder cattle exports. The U.S. must have a large supply of cattle to be exported and remain competitive, there is a lack of livestock export facilities on both coasts for large shipments, and specific geographical health requirements can prevent certain regions from exporting feeder cattle.

“Another obstacle is customers in the Mideast only want to feed bulls; they will not feed a steer. It will be interesting to see if they put these ethics specifications aside in the future to buy steer calves from the U.S. and not bulls from South America,” Clayton added.

To watch Clayton’s full presentation, visit

More than 300 beef producers, academia and industry representatives attended BIF’s 54th Annual Research Symposium and Convention in Las Cruces, New Mexico. For more information about this year’s symposium, including award winners, coverage of the symposium and an archive to coverage of past conferences, go to

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