Vet’s Voice: Still time to add value to the calf crop | TSLN.com

Vet’s Voice: Still time to add value to the calf crop

Dave Barz, DVM

Field work is progressing at a record pace; it won’t be long before it is wrapped up. Thankfully we received enough rain last week to decrease the risk of harvest fires. I’m sure many producers pressed in the remainder of their winter wheat before Oct. 15. The calf market is good, but it isn’t as high as we had hoped. There are still several things producers can do to increase the market value of their calf crop.

If all the calves were born on the ranch (didn’t buy cow-calf pairs or graft calves), producers can age and source the calf crop. The calves we’ve seen at market are bringing $3-$5 per hundredweight more than their generic counter parts. There are many companies and breed groups that are available to help producers enroll calves. It usually requires a calf recordbook, some form of identification and a registration fee. Most will enroll calves for about $3 a head. For the average calf marketer, the increased return of doing this is about $20-$25 per head.

Most age and source calves have been handled for identification. This also allows a booster vaccination to be administered. The first round of vaccinations increases the calf’s value several dollars per hundredweight, but a second round of booster vaccinations usually doubles that amount. Be sure to record vaccination dates and products. Many buyers ask for signed vaccination forms after the sale. Be sure to have this form printed and verified by a veterinarian or animal health provider to ensure top dollar. Also be sure to include the operation’s Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) number on the paper work. Most buyers are happy to give a little more money if they believe the producer has done everything possible to ensure proper usage and vaccination technique.

The next decision should be carefully considered before implementation. At this point in the cycle calves are undervalued. This simply means 550-pound calves can be purchased and placed on a feeder contract for a profit. The amount of profit depends on the price of feed. Corn was at a relatively high level, but has now dropped to more manageable levels (down $1.50-$2 a bushel). Couple this with the hay price, which last week hay was quoted at all-time highs ($176 a ton). If producers have hay, maybe they should consider selling it and not feeding it to their calves. It all comes to the price of the feedstuffs and ultimately the price of gain. If producers can put on a pound of gain for $1 and sell it for $1.46, they would make $0.40 for every pound added. Adding 200 pounds will yield producers $80 more for each calf.

The next decision is whether to implant. The market has always paid a little more for non-implanted calves, but is it enough? Assuming it takes an equal amount of feed for both an implanted and non-implanted calf for 90 days, we project the implanted calf to be 50 pounds heavier. If the market for 750-pound calf is $1.40 per hundredweight, the implanted calf will return $70 more than non-implanted counter parts. That equates to roughly $10 per hundredweight. If producers aren’t receiving a $10 per hundredweight premium for non-implanted calves, it is costing them potential profit.

Adding value to calves may not seem like much money at the time because it is $10 here and $20 there. But the total adds up, multiplied by the number of head, quickly becoming thousands of dollars. Don’t leave this money at the table for the next owner to collect. Visit with a veterinarian, nutritionist, or extension specialist to determine which management procedures will earn extra dollars. This will ensure maximum profitability and help the beef herd’s bottom line.

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Field work is progressing at a record pace; it won’t be long before it is wrapped up. Thankfully we received enough rain last week to decrease the risk of harvest fires. I’m sure many producers pressed in the remainder of their winter wheat before Oct. 15. The calf market is good, but it isn’t as high as we had hoped. There are still several things producers can do to increase the market value of their calf crop.

If all the calves were born on the ranch (didn’t buy cow-calf pairs or graft calves), producers can age and source the calf crop. The calves we’ve seen at market are bringing $3-$5 per hundredweight more than their generic counter parts. There are many companies and breed groups that are available to help producers enroll calves. It usually requires a calf recordbook, some form of identification and a registration fee. Most will enroll calves for about $3 a head. For the average calf marketer, the increased return of doing this is about $20-$25 per head.

Most age and source calves have been handled for identification. This also allows a booster vaccination to be administered. The first round of vaccinations increases the calf’s value several dollars per hundredweight, but a second round of booster vaccinations usually doubles that amount. Be sure to record vaccination dates and products. Many buyers ask for signed vaccination forms after the sale. Be sure to have this form printed and verified by a veterinarian or animal health provider to ensure top dollar. Also be sure to include the operation’s Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) number on the paper work. Most buyers are happy to give a little more money if they believe the producer has done everything possible to ensure proper usage and vaccination technique.

The next decision should be carefully considered before implementation. At this point in the cycle calves are undervalued. This simply means 550-pound calves can be purchased and placed on a feeder contract for a profit. The amount of profit depends on the price of feed. Corn was at a relatively high level, but has now dropped to more manageable levels (down $1.50-$2 a bushel). Couple this with the hay price, which last week hay was quoted at all-time highs ($176 a ton). If producers have hay, maybe they should consider selling it and not feeding it to their calves. It all comes to the price of the feedstuffs and ultimately the price of gain. If producers can put on a pound of gain for $1 and sell it for $1.46, they would make $0.40 for every pound added. Adding 200 pounds will yield producers $80 more for each calf.

The next decision is whether to implant. The market has always paid a little more for non-implanted calves, but is it enough? Assuming it takes an equal amount of feed for both an implanted and non-implanted calf for 90 days, we project the implanted calf to be 50 pounds heavier. If the market for 750-pound calf is $1.40 per hundredweight, the implanted calf will return $70 more than non-implanted counter parts. That equates to roughly $10 per hundredweight. If producers aren’t receiving a $10 per hundredweight premium for non-implanted calves, it is costing them potential profit.

Adding value to calves may not seem like much money at the time because it is $10 here and $20 there. But the total adds up, multiplied by the number of head, quickly becoming thousands of dollars. Don’t leave this money at the table for the next owner to collect. Visit with a veterinarian, nutritionist, or extension specialist to determine which management procedures will earn extra dollars. This will ensure maximum profitability and help the beef herd’s bottom line.

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