LSU AgCenter extension agents recently gained a better understanding of the cattle market using a computer simulator that replicates selling cattle at the feedlot.

AgCenter economist Ross Pruitt said most Louisiana cattle are sold at weaning, but learning the market dynamics of feedlot sales provides more insight into the overall industry. The simulator was developed by Oklahoma State University, and faculty from there facilitated the training for the 40 AgCenter agents in attendance.

“The simulator recreates the interactions that occur between feedlots and packers in the marketing of fed cattle,” Pruitt said. “Benefits of the simulator include the ability for participants to experiment with different marketing and procurement strategies in a fun learning environment.”

Agents learned different strategies for pricing cattle. “Agents that participated were able to improve their ability to calculate break-even prices as well as use financial statements to plan and revise marketing and buying strategies.”

Pruitt said the training helped agents better understand management of risks. “The agents came away with a deeper appreciation of the market dynamics for the entire beef industry that will improve their ability to help Louisiana cattle producers.”

The beef cattle industry contributed $561 million to the Louisiana economy in 2012, according to the latest figures from the AgCenter’s Ag Summary. Cattle are raised in every parish but Orleans.

The in-service training was made possible through an LSU AgCenter Extension Innovation grant awarded to Karl Harborth and Jason Holmes, both AgCenter livestock specialists, and Pruitt. The Oklahoma State faculty members that led the training were Derrell Peel and Kellie Raper.