Pasturing or Feeding Fall born Calves in North Dakota

K.F. Hoppe, V.L. Anderson and P. Nyren

Calving during the fall is a viable alternative to spring calving. Fall calving results in reduced calving difficulties and reduced sickness in newborn calves. After weaning fall born calves in April, the cattleman has the flexibility to manage calves either by 1) feeding the calves in drylot or 2) grazing calves if grass is available.

This project was developed to evaluate the production efficiencies in either 1) directly feeding the calves until finished or 2) provide grazing for 105 days before placing the calves in feedlot for finishing. Three cooperators consigned 40 head of fall born calves into the project during May 1997. The calves were randomly assigned to either the feedlot for finishing or pasture for grazing followed by feedlot finishing.

Calves initially weighed 572.2 lbs upon delivery on May 15, 1997. Calves were separated into different management groups on June 2. At the end of the grazing period, the pastured calves weighed 808.6 lbs while the feedlot group weighed 1025.0 lbs. Average daily gains during this period are shown in the table. Total cost of gain (without interest) was $.280 for the pasture group and $.386 for the feedlot group. Breakeven price was $73.95/cwt for the pasture group and $66.67/cwt for the feedlot group.

Cattle Management Performance Summary Average Daily Gain

Group

6/2 to 7/5/97

7/25 to 8/28/97

8/27 to 9/16/97

Feedlot

Period

3.39

3.73

4.56

Cum.

3.26

3.40

3.59

Pasture

Period

2.33

1.20

1.01

Cum.

2.43

2.05

1.87

Affiliation of co-authors and non-CREC staff: P. Nyren, Director/Range Scientist, Central Grasslands Research Center.

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