Vet’s Corner: Tips to increase feeder calf value

US - Last weekend brought some moisture to the area writes David Barz, D.V.M., Northwest Vet Supply. We are thankful for the moisture, but I traveled north last week and know many producers are in need of much more precipitation before turnout.
calendar icon 6 March 2007
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Most have sold the 2006 calves, and many received substantially less dollars than a year ago. Now is the time to make marketing decisions for the 2007 calves.

Animal health is very important to the feedlots whether a producer sells or retains ownership. We all understand that prevention is much more cost-effective than treatment. A sick animal never fulfills its potential in the feedyard. Its feed conversion is adversely affected and its quality grades will be lower than expected.

Most feedlots prefer a primary round of vaccinations when the calves are about 3 months old. A round of booster vaccinations are give about two to three weeks before weaning. The calves should be treated for internal and external parasites at this time and the bulls should be castrated if not already done. The calves should then be weaned and bunk broke for 30 to 45 days before they enter the feedyard.

Heterosis or hybrid vigor is important to the productivity of the calf. The crossbred most desired by the feedlot is 50 percent to 75 percent British genetics and 25 percent to 50 percent Continental genetics. This composite feeds, grades and yields well, while finishing at appropriate weights.

Higher percentages of British may lack muscle and produce too many yield grade 4s. Predominantly Continentals may lack quality grades and produce too heavy a carcass.

Are you receiving enough premiums for calves for the rewards gained by the feedyards? If producers feel their calves are better than average, they should think about retained ownership to learn the exact figures on their calves and receive the premiums they deserve.

Premium and branded programs are available to add incentives to calves with better breeding. These programs have specific guidelines producers must follow throughout the calf’s life. Most programs require the use of an identification tag and some require and electronic identification tag (EID). With a few simple records these calves would qualify for various age and source verification programs supervised by the USDA.

Feeder calf value can be increased by:

  • Proper breed composition;
  • Verifiable health programs;
  • Genetics enabling grid marketing;
  • Participation in branded programs;
    Enrollment in age and source verification.
The consumer is responsible for the price we are paid for our product. We must remember we are producing food for the consumer.

TheCattleSite News Desk

TheCattleSite News Desk

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