A great registered Texas Longhorn cow can sell for $380,000. A great registered Holstein cow can sell for $380,000, that is retail value. The buyer knows, has a plan, thinks he knows, or may really have an insider-track to a way this investment will pay for itself, and fetch a return of equal, or more value. Most high dollar cattle make their return by semen sales, embryo sales, or resale. Only the very best genetics have this high value and are rightfully celebrated throughout their industry.
On the other hand, if these same animals are sold, without registration, at the local cattle auction, they are weighed and bring about sixty cents a pound -- that is wholesale. When sold over the scales there is no respect of show wins, pedigree, milk production, bloodline, DNA, true breed type, color, or conformation -- it is only about weight on that day.
In this example the difference in wholesale and retail is about 400 times more for retail. Is retail pie-in-the-sky? Absolutely not -- if they can yield a return on investment and be profitable. That is where good marketing comes in. In fact no one should buy above wholesale unless they are planning to do good marketing and promotion. One can own the greatest critter in the world and without some advertising to the world, the world will never know -- they then, sadly, remain forever wholesale.
Now, lets forget the $380,000 cow -- forget her completely. Think about a normal 1100 lb. cow. She can sell wholesale at the local cattle auction for 60 cents and fetch $660 minus sale fees, hauling, taxes, etc. which nets a wholesale of about $640. That is wholesale. Are we still in the buggy?
Now, take the 1100 lb cow again. Don't sell her wholesale, although if you are low energy, that is about all you have a desire to do. But, if you are aggressive and would like to become a retail marketer, process the cattle that are not genetically helpful to the herd. The 1100 lb cow will yield 34% lean grind --- that is 374 lbs, which can be sold for $6 per lb as grass fed grind, that is $2244, now we are back to retail again. The cost of inspected legal processing will run about $400. There is a lot of difference in wholesale $640 and retail $1844. Wholesale will not make ranch payments -- retail will buy the neighbors farm in a few years.