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Adding Value to Your Calf Crop

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Date: October 19, 2020
Agent: Damon Pollard

This is Damon Pollard, Livestock Agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service-Burke Center. Today’s topic is Adding Value to Your Calf Crop.

In many ways, adding value means implementing management practices to maximize dollars received for your calves on sale day. Dehorning; castration; adequate frame and muscling; and avoiding body condition extremes at sale time all help add value. Through the use of superior bull and cow genetics;
controlled breeding seasons so that calves sell in larger, more uniform lots, preconditioning; and a complete health program give the opportunity for producer premiums. Other one-time practices that can impact your check might include minimizing presale shrink and optimizing fill in the sale ring. For example, research shows that preconditioned calves entering the feedlot will have lower morbidity and mortality, gain faster with greater feed efficiency and finish in less days on feed with a lower total cost of gain. One study showed a $55 per head advantage for preconditioned calves by the end of the feeding period.

While your calves are in the ring, buyers visually appraise them, determine their value and place a bid, based on their estimate of how your calves will perform in the next phase of production. It is a good idea for producers to document their value-added management practices and provide this information to buyers on sale day. A buyer may share part of that future value with you in the form of a premium, but it will never equal the full value of the management and expertise represented in your calves.

This is Damon Pollard, Livestock Agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service-Burke