Calf Marketing Dilemma: To Sell or Feed?

US - Producers may sell weaned calves for more money than ever before this year, but there may be even better returns by retaining some calves for added weight gain.
calendar icon 26 June 2014
clock icon 2 minute read

This is the advice of Oklahoma cattle marketing expert Derrell S Peel, who has said that any effort put into calves could be worthwhile.

High prices mean that the value of added weight gain for lightweight feeder cattle is well over $1/pound and retaining stockers a sensible option for some.

However, it is not an all or nothing issue, Mr Peel explained.

“Producers should evaluate the opportunities relative to size and gender,” said Mr Peel.

“For example, it makes sense to sell the heavy end of the calf crop at weaning and retain the lighter calves for additional weight gain or sell the steers and keep the heifers.”

Investing in calf management may also bring monetary benefits, particularly if stock can be enrolled schemes that recognise the value of preconditioned calves.

Mr Peel said that weaning, castrating, dehorning and vaccination can bring monetary rewards, even with the price already high.

“There is sometimes a feeling among producers that it is difficult to capture additional premium for preconditioned cattle when prices are already high,” said Mr Peel.

“However, from a buyer perspective the value of preconditioning to reduce the risk of calf morbidity and mortality is even higher given the large investment being made in the cattle.”

He cited the Oklahoma Quality Beef Network as one such scheme in which to participate.

He also saw value in keeping heifers and marketing them separately, looking forward to two to four years of very strong heifer demand.

“Retaining and raising heifers may provide considerable production and marketing flexibility in the use of forage resources,” he concluded.

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