Vet’s Voice by Dr. Dave Barz: Don’t leave money on the table
October 26, 2014
The weather has really been ideal for the harvest in our area. Most of the beans are harvested and many have a good start on the corn. Today I even saw some fall tillage. If the good weather continues, we should be done with harvest by the first of November. This summer and fall we have seen several major changes in beef complex.
As the price for beef has increased and the cow numbers have decreased, we have seen a drastic change in the way animals are marketed. Gone are the days of docks for large carcasses and over fats. Because of the high calf prices (feed lot replacements) and lower feed costs, most feedlots are making their calves heavy. If you can put the gain on for 75 cents per pound and market it for $1.50 plus, it is a winning situation for the feedlot. The feedlot needs the heavy carcass so it can generate enough dollars to stay for business. A 1,700 pound for steer selling for $1.55 per pound generates $2,635. This is needed because the calf refilling the feedlot slot cost $2,125 at $2.50 for an 850 pound steer. That only leaves $500 to put on the next 600 pounds. Hopefully the slaughter market will be in the mid $1.60s when they come to market.
Most producers in our area sell pounds and not grid marketing where you are paid for quality grades. At this point in the beef cycle we are all rewarded for pounds whether a cow calf producer, backgrounder, or a finisher lot. Anything you can do to add pounds generates increased income. In the cow calf sector we have spent years downsizing our cows and working on better grading. Now we are selecting for larger cows and calf weight gains over quality of the carcasses. Pasture rent is still high, but other feed stuffs have gotten less expensive.
Even if you are unable to increase the size of your herd, now may be a good time to improve your quality. Your cull cows are also worth a lot of dollars. If you are keeping your own replacements, you can trade a cull cow for an open heifer. Now is a great time to examine your herd and remove anything which is not fulfilling her potential to your herd. If you need to change the genetic makeup of your herd, now may be a good time to trade in old for new. Many producers believe the only time you can afford to improve your herd is when prices are cheap, but now is a great time to improve.
Even though calves are bringing high dollars, don't leave any money on the table. Be sure to generate as many dollars as possible.
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It will increase your calf weights at least 30 pounds. At $3/per pound, that is also over
$100/per head. We are also implanting a lot of cull cows and open heifers going back to feed to increase gains for the ninety days they are fed.
This year has been a great year to utilize creep feeds and modified weaning strategies to add the extra pounds. There is very little dock for flesh, so allow those calves to grow to their maximum potential.
The prices for your cull cows, open heifers and calves are at all time highs. Use them to generate as many dollars as possible for your operation. Consult with your veterinarian, nutritionalist or extension specialties to help them generate their full monetary potential. This will help you operation be more profitable.