Carrying calves over to summer grass works for Don Littrel, De King & Tom Courtney | TSLN.com
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Carrying calves over to summer grass works for Don Littrel, De King & Tom Courtney

Less than 50 years ago, there were still ranches retaining ownership of their calves and running them until the steers were three years old. The introduction of continental breeds that had faster growth, plus economic practicality, gradually put an end to the big steer era. By the 1980s, one rarely saw a steer past two years old, much less three.

Retaining ownership in calves beyond weaning is a decision that every cow-calf operator considers. If fall markets are weak, it is often a good decision to hang onto calves after weaning and sell them in the winter or early spring. Feed base and facilities play a big part in the decision as well.

The operations that normally carry their calves over to run as yearlings need the carrying capacity to run both the cowherd and the yearlings. A smaller cowherd is run to allow for the grass to run the yearlings, unless additional pasture is available. Therefore, retaining ownership of calves is a big management decision and not one made without considering the long-term effects on the operation.



During the period of extended drought in the not-so-distant past, most ranches that had usually held their calves over opted to sell instead. When the drought ended and grass and hay became abundant again, some went back to the yearling operation instead of increasing the cowherd to match the carrying capacity of the land.

Less than 50 years ago, there were still ranches retaining ownership of their calves and running them until the steers were three years old. The introduction of continental breeds that had faster growth, plus economic practicality, gradually put an end to the big steer era. By the 1980s, one rarely saw a steer past two years old, much less three.



Retaining ownership in calves beyond weaning is a decision that every cow-calf operator considers. If fall markets are weak, it is often a good decision to hang onto calves after weaning and sell them in the winter or early spring. Feed base and facilities play a big part in the decision as well.

The operations that normally carry their calves over to run as yearlings need the carrying capacity to run both the cowherd and the yearlings. A smaller cowherd is run to allow for the grass to run the yearlings, unless additional pasture is available. Therefore, retaining ownership of calves is a big management decision and not one made without considering the long-term effects on the operation.

During the period of extended drought in the not-so-distant past, most ranches that had usually held their calves over opted to sell instead. When the drought ended and grass and hay became abundant again, some went back to the yearling operation instead of increasing the cowherd to match the carrying capacity of the land.

Less than 50 years ago, there were still ranches retaining ownership of their calves and running them until the steers were three years old. The introduction of continental breeds that had faster growth, plus economic practicality, gradually put an end to the big steer era. By the 1980s, one rarely saw a steer past two years old, much less three.

Retaining ownership in calves beyond weaning is a decision that every cow-calf operator considers. If fall markets are weak, it is often a good decision to hang onto calves after weaning and sell them in the winter or early spring. Feed base and facilities play a big part in the decision as well.

The operations that normally carry their calves over to run as yearlings need the carrying capacity to run both the cowherd and the yearlings. A smaller cowherd is run to allow for the grass to run the yearlings, unless additional pasture is available. Therefore, retaining ownership of calves is a big management decision and not one made without considering the long-term effects on the operation.

During the period of extended drought in the not-so-distant past, most ranches that had usually held their calves over opted to sell instead. When the drought ended and grass and hay became abundant again, some went back to the yearling operation instead of increasing the cowherd to match the carrying capacity of the land.

Less than 50 years ago, there were still ranches retaining ownership of their calves and running them until the steers were three years old. The introduction of continental breeds that had faster growth, plus economic practicality, gradually put an end to the big steer era. By the 1980s, one rarely saw a steer past two years old, much less three.

Retaining ownership in calves beyond weaning is a decision that every cow-calf operator considers. If fall markets are weak, it is often a good decision to hang onto calves after weaning and sell them in the winter or early spring. Feed base and facilities play a big part in the decision as well.

The operations that normally carry their calves over to run as yearlings need the carrying capacity to run both the cowherd and the yearlings. A smaller cowherd is run to allow for the grass to run the yearlings, unless additional pasture is available. Therefore, retaining ownership of calves is a big management decision and not one made without considering the long-term effects on the operation.

During the period of extended drought in the not-so-distant past, most ranches that had usually held their calves over opted to sell instead. When the drought ended and grass and hay became abundant again, some went back to the yearling operation instead of increasing the cowherd to match the carrying capacity of the land.


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