Livestock producers in West Virginia now have access to better information that can be used to determine the best time to buy or sell animals.

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) recently upgraded its Market News reporting system to include substantially more detail than in the past.

“The profit margin on livestock is extremely thin and timing sales or purchases around the market is often the difference between turning a profit or taking a loss,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Gus R. Douglass.

All reporting is now done electronically, which aids speed and accuracy of reporting. Feeder cattle — those that still need to gain weight before slaughter — are now broken down in 50-pound weight ranges instead of the previous 100-pound ranges and are all reported on a weighted average.

Color, age and fleshiness can also be included in the report, as well as the percentage of type of cattle sold through the sale on that day. Bred cattle are also now broken down by age, muscle and months bred.

The Market News is a long-running service of the WVDA. Livestock staff compile and report the most recent prices, volume, animal quality and condition and other market information gathered at the state’s livestock auction sales. WVDA staff grades livestock at the sales and collect price information to ensure unbiased data is provided to West Virginia farmers.

“The old reporting system was done by hand. The data is now disseminated within hours of collection via the internet and made available through electronic means, in printed reports, and through the news media,” said Dwayne O’Dell, WVDA Marketing and Development Division Assistant Director. “This system will also put West Virginia’s reporting in line with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s system, which will help buyers as well as sellers.”

Market News is available on the WVDA website at mailto: Click the “Market News Report” link on the right-hand side of the page to access data.