Yesterday, we talked about the importance of a quality focus throughout the stocker segment and a tool that can help you set goals and guidelines for your own backgrounding operation. Today, we take a look at one stocker operator who’s putting those practices to work.

Stocker Mark Yazel knows about quality.

Those guys who say stocker operators don’t care about quality? They’ve never met Mark Yazel. But Gary has, and he knows the Kiowa, Kan., producer buys and sells more than 75,000 head of cattle per year, with one-quarter of those spending time in his grower yard or grazing program.

But just because he deals in such large numbers doesn’t mean he’ll buy just anything. It’s quality in, quality out on his operation.

Mark prefers English cattle, at least 85 percent black-hided, with no more than one-eighth crossbreeding and “real limited exotic influence.” They’ve also got to grow, stay healthy and grade after finishing later on. And when cattle fall short? Well, he takes that seriously and will pass the next time he comes across animals from those herds.

Mark explains that in a business with such narrow margins, consistency is key.

“People demand a higher-quality eating experience when they go out. We’ve pretty much got to demand it when we go buy cattle. The feedyard demands it because the packing plant demands it because the consumer demands it.”

Once he’s got those high-quality calves in his program, he knows it’s up to him to make sure they continue on the high-quality path. He keeps animal stress to an absolute minimum and does all he can to keep them healthy and growing, fast enough to keep costs in check but not so fast that they’re being pushed too hard.

To read more about Mark check out “Quality in, quality out.”

Stop by tomororw as we head on out to the feedlot phase!

Beef’s a Trip Archives:

Day 1: Starting at day one

Day 2: Who are these people?

Day 3: Stockholders

Day 4: The cowherd’s purpose

Day 5: Deciding to care

Day 6: Quality focus doesn’t have to skip the middleman

Day 7: Stocking for quality

Day 8: SOLD!

Day 9: What have you done today?

Day 10: Working together to make ‘em better

Day 11: Keep on truckin’

Day 12: Packers want quality

Day 13: The target

Day 14: Packers up close & personal

Day 15: It’s not all about the beef

Day 16: Further processors

Day 17: From here to there–and a lot more

Day 18: He’s on your team

Day 19: Beyond prices, grocery stores uncovered

Day 20: Getting quality in the carts

By the way, have you checked out Holly Spangler’s My Generation blog yet? She’s got a whole list of all the ag bloggers that are in this 30-day challenge together.