Nebraska grazier trails 1600 head to market to save trucking costs

Staff report

NEWPORT, Nebraska: In a reprise of days past, Nebraska grazier, Chad Peterson, trailed 1600 head of beeves to market the fall of 2003. While many Nebraska graziers trail cattle across country to shift grazing locations, Peterson’s is the first market drive down public roads in modern times.

Peterson said he got to looking at the $6000 trucking bill he faced to haul the cattle to market and decided to trail them the 20.5 miles down county roads to the Atkinson market instead.

The livestock market provided the riders for the drive. Once word got out, Peterson said, they had to turn wannabe riders away.

The drive used 16 horseback riders, two ATVs and a small jeep. All but a mile and half of the drive were on public roads.

Peterson said the herd would get strung out as much as three miles in length as it walked down the narrow roads.

The herd was made up of 700 cow-calf pairs and 900-plus yearlings. He said having the cows along really helped.

“My cows are used to shifting paddocks every day and are really tame.”

To keep shrink at a minimum the cattle only walked for 2.5 to three hours every day. Pasture was rented along the way for them to graze during the rest of the day.

Peterson termed the trail drive a great success. He said the cattle didn’t shrink as badly as when they were trucked and he got to keep the $6000 it would have cost.

He said the 750-pound heifers brought 97 cents a pound and the calves brought $1.49 a pound net of sales commission.

He said he would probably drive his cattle to market again.

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