Thinking outside the box | TSLN.com

Thinking outside the box

Dave Barz, DVM

For the Nov. 7, 2009 edition of Tri-State Livestock News.

Last week was brutal in our area. The precipitation really made things a mess. We had enough moisture to leave standing water in the low spots and make the creeks run. In our area about half the beans are combined, but the corn remains. This means no stalks yet to winter the cows after weaning. Even after the snow one of my clients was still optimistic. He had tried all his corn fields and found the moisture content of the grain too high. He estimated if he did nothing for two weeks and the corn dropped four points of moisture, he would make $50,000 by avoiding drying costs. So to some the snow was a money-maker.

This year the calf market is weaker than the previous years. Marketing the way we have for the last several years may not be the best for the profitability of our operations. The last 10 years producers have been gradually moving their calving dates ahead. This is supposed to result in larger calves at weaning or market time to generate more dollars. As feed inputs increase and prices go down we should look at scenarios other than total fall marketing.

Sort your calves into groups and sell them at separate times. The heavy third should be marketed immediately. The second third could be backgrounded and the smaller calves could be winter grazed and marketed as yearlings. Another option would be to sell the steers now and background the heifers and sell them this spring. If the market rebounds you will have a chance at increased profits.

Consider running yearlings on some of your summer pastures. Cull your cows heavily and remove all females unable to produce a calf whose value will return the cost of production. My clients claim to have made money the last few years running yearlings in spite of high purchase costs. You may even choose to run some of your own calves as yearling on grass.

Back up your calving season. In our effort to produce pounds we sometimes lose sight of efficiency. Calving in May and June results in better weather conditions. Gone is the snow, the cold and the mud. Scours will be minimal and calf health should be good. You will not have to spend as much time calving and feeding because they will be on pasture. The grasses will enable the cow to produce adequate milk and your winter feed and supplement should be greatly decreased. The calves will be smaller at weaning but should bring more dollars because there won’t be many calves at that weight marketed at markett time.

Fall calving is another means of producing calves which are marketed when there are lower supplies of calves being sold. In our area producers using this program believe it is very cost effective. As long as your calves are born in September and October you won’t need much shelter other than a windbreak. Most clients creep feed the calves through the winter wean in early spring before it gets too muddy. Fall calving cows are not as reproductively efficient as spring calvers, but many are able to double the stocking density of their pasture in summer because they are running a dry cow.

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Innovative marketing is only innovative as along as everyone else isn’t using it. Examine your cost of production and see if there are ways to generate more dollars, better utilize your forages and pastures, and decrease your time needed to make the system work. Think outside the box, just because your ranch has been utilizing a management program for years, doesn’t mean it is best for current conditions. Visit with your veterinarian, nutritionalist, or extension specialist to formulate a program which will work best for you. Its implementation will increase the efficiency of the use of your natural resources while increasing your cash returns.

Last week was brutal in our area. The precipitation really made things a mess. We had enough moisture to leave standing water in the low spots and make the creeks run. In our area about half the beans are combined, but the corn remains. This means no stalks yet to winter the cows after weaning. Even after the snow one of my clients was still optimistic. He had tried all his corn fields and found the moisture content of the grain too high. He estimated if he did nothing for two weeks and the corn dropped four points of moisture, he would make $50,000 by avoiding drying costs. So to some the snow was a money-maker.

This year the calf market is weaker than the previous years. Marketing the way we have for the last several years may not be the best for the profitability of our operations. The last 10 years producers have been gradually moving their calving dates ahead. This is supposed to result in larger calves at weaning or market time to generate more dollars. As feed inputs increase and prices go down we should look at scenarios other than total fall marketing.

Sort your calves into groups and sell them at separate times. The heavy third should be marketed immediately. The second third could be backgrounded and the smaller calves could be winter grazed and marketed as yearlings. Another option would be to sell the steers now and background the heifers and sell them this spring. If the market rebounds you will have a chance at increased profits.

Consider running yearlings on some of your summer pastures. Cull your cows heavily and remove all females unable to produce a calf whose value will return the cost of production. My clients claim to have made money the last few years running yearlings in spite of high purchase costs. You may even choose to run some of your own calves as yearling on grass.

Back up your calving season. In our effort to produce pounds we sometimes lose sight of efficiency. Calving in May and June results in better weather conditions. Gone is the snow, the cold and the mud. Scours will be minimal and calf health should be good. You will not have to spend as much time calving and feeding because they will be on pasture. The grasses will enable the cow to produce adequate milk and your winter feed and supplement should be greatly decreased. The calves will be smaller at weaning but should bring more dollars because there won’t be many calves at that weight marketed at markett time.

Fall calving is another means of producing calves which are marketed when there are lower supplies of calves being sold. In our area producers using this program believe it is very cost effective. As long as your calves are born in September and October you won’t need much shelter other than a windbreak. Most clients creep feed the calves through the winter wean in early spring before it gets too muddy. Fall calving cows are not as reproductively efficient as spring calvers, but many are able to double the stocking density of their pasture in summer because they are running a dry cow.

Innovative marketing is only innovative as along as everyone else isn’t using it. Examine your cost of production and see if there are ways to generate more dollars, better utilize your forages and pastures, and decrease your time needed to make the system work. Think outside the box, just because your ranch has been utilizing a management program for years, doesn’t mean it is best for current conditions. Visit with your veterinarian, nutritionalist, or extension specialist to formulate a program which will work best for you. Its implementation will increase the efficiency of the use of your natural resources while increasing your cash returns.