7 ways to add value to your calves
Proper management can go a long way toward adding value to your calves and preventing discounts at market on less desirable cattle. According to animal scientists with Texas A&M University, the following are seven important calf management practices to help you add value to the calves you produce:
1. Parasite control
Calves are more susceptible to internal and external parasites than adult cattle. Managing these parasites can add additional pounds of weaning weight. Controlling external parasites also improves weaning weights.
2. Creep feeding
Creep feeding is designed to add weight to nursing calves on pastures, especially in situations where cows and calves are stressed by a lack of forage, extreme temperatures, or other adverse environmental conditions.
In the feedlot, horned cattle require more bunk space, they can cause bruises that lower carcass values, and are a safety concern for people. Discounts for calves with horns are usually about $2 per hundredweight. Dehorning is inexpensive and should be done on calves as young as possible to reduce stress on the calf. Methods Paying attention to these details really pays off when it’s time to take your calves to the sale barn. A little preparation goes a long way, and devices used to dehorn calves include polled genetics, hot iron method, Barnes dehorner, dehorning saw, tube dehorner, and dehorning paste.
Castrate bull calves. Depending on weight, steers are worth more per hundredweight. Older and heavier bull calves are discounted to allow for shrink and possible death loss from castration. To minimize stress and risk, calves should be castrated as young as possible, preferably before 4 months of age or as soon as they are nursing. Methods of castration include surgery (knife cut), banding, and the Burdizzo method.
5. Growth implants
There is a high net return on implanting suckling calves, because it can increase daily weight gains and weaning weights.
Cattle fill is classified as gaunt, shrunk, average, full, or overfilled (also called tanked). A small amount of fill variation is tolerated by order buyers, but extremes are discounted.
7. Group size and uniformity
Buyers prefer feeders that are bred alike, managed alike, and sold in truckload lots of 90 to 100 head. When determining uniformity among a group of feeder cattle, the traits buyers look for most are weight, color, breed type, frame, muscle, and condition.
From our friends at Purina Animal Nutrition LLC. Copyright Purina 2014
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